We have begun our third job training school! Introducing the Highway/Construction Training School of South Side Mission. In this partnership with Illinois Central College, they are relying on us to provide the students, and ICC is providing the instruction, in conjunction with area unions. The first classes enroll this month! Each academic quarter, ICC will enroll the three candidates we provide (along with others) in their Highway/Construction School. We aim to have 12 complete the school in 2012. Students will receive $5 per hour while they are in class, a pair of steeltoed boots, college credit and certification in highway construction and possibly another trade as well. The Highway/Construction School of South Side Mission has the potential to produce graduates that earn upwards of $20 per hour, making it our most lucrative job training school.
Here’s how it came together…The large-scale highway construction projects require that contractors who receive the bid employ a certain number of women and minority workers. These contractors let the State know that they’re having trouble finding candidates. The State stepped in and offered grants to community colleges to produce qualified women and minority candidates for these jobs. We have access to many women and minority candidates for these positions, so I reached out to ICC and proposed that they set aside a number of guaranteed slots each quarter for our people and they were more than happy to do so.
On January 26th, we dined on fresh Silverfin in the Lighthouse Diner with nationally-known chef Philippe Parola of Baton Rouge, La. Silverfin is the euphemistic name for the troublesome Asian Carp. Our friends at Illinois American Water Co. and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources underwrote and organized the event, which was heavily publicized. Attending the luncheon were Marc Miller State Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Karla Olson Teasley, President of Illinois American Water Co., State Senator Dave Koeheler, various other dignitaries & politicians and our very own Board member Pastor Jeremie Davis. Just about every local media showed up from TV to newspaper to local public radio.
The Asian Carp was prepared as follows: fileted first, removal of the lateral line, baked, deboned, added to Chef Philippe’s sauce and served with a squash and rice casserole along with a mixed greens salad. Chef Chris added a tremendous spice cake. The “Silverfin” is a soft white meat not unlike a Tilapia. The challenge is that it is so bony. If you prepared it similar to Chef Philippe, it could be great in a fish taco, chowder, loose meat sandwich, “crab cake,” or another application. All surveyed that day enjoyed the fish. The sauce was particularly tasty.
Another new development is that we have added a GED program here, in conjunction with our pals at ICC. We currently have 25 enrolled in our new GED class, which meets here at the Mission. With two of our job training schools, participants need to have a GED before they can gain employment. The GED class is also handy for the ladies in our shelter.
Illinois Wesleyan began sending nursing students to us for internships in January. Bradley, Methodist, St. Francis and now IWU are sending student nurses to us now. This allows us to provide on-the-spot medical care in a lot of our facilities now, from the New Promise Center shelter, to the Benevolence Center to the Lighthouse Diner. It’s definitely a mutually-beneficial relationship.
Director of Elderly Services, Robin Winfrey RN reports an answered prayer. One of the reasons that Robin’s visit numbers are up this month is that we have four new volunteer nurses helping her. We are often called upon to help set up seniors’ medication boxes—a very time-consuming task that limits our ability to help very many people. This group of volunteer nurses visits a number of seniors weekly, setting up medications and nurse Naomi Abel even takes her keyboard sometimes to sing with seniors and encourage them!
Out at Camp Kearney, Paul Mulholland reports that all four of his male counselors from 2011 are returning for 2012. This is a first and a huge blessing. Good male counselors are very difficult to find.
Sheree Lyles, Associate Executive Director, Youth Services, reports that one of our College Club kids now at ICC is transferring to SIU to finish an accounting Bachelor’s degree.
The Rotary Club of Peoria, North, conducted a 6,000 lb. food drive for us in January!
Did you know?
South Side Mission operates four Bible studies in its Harrison Homes Satellite Office. The Upper Room Addiction Recovery Bible study drew 10 attenders, the God Squad Spiritual Renewal Youth Group had 13 children this month. The Help a Sister Stand Support group is now averaging 15 ladies per week. Rev. Craig Williams Sunday discipleship group had two attenders, a smaller number because two more of his attenders found a regular church home.