Tree of Life: Opportunities Kitchen

Tree of Life: Opportunities Kitchen

St. Philip’s Tree of Life is our effort to give back to organizations that benefit our community, a commitment we made as a part of our 2019 Annual Budget. Not only do we experience God’s love in and through our parish, we recognize that God’s love is all around us, through organizations and ministries that care for all of God’s creation. Each one of these organizations is close to the heart of someone in our church family, and is supported by our community.

Opportunities Kitchen

Opportunities Kitchen: An employment exposure program for Portland Metro Area’s Opportunity Youth which uses the Food Industry and Trades as a medium for career development. OK is a vocational and educational program for Portland Metro Area’s disconnected and underserved youth, ages 18-24 years old, where learning, executing skills, accreditation, and job placement is provided within the food industry including: Farming & Production, Food Processing, Distribution, Hospitality, Recycling and the Trades involved in keeping the industry going.

I (Joe Nunn) have volunteered to work with Opportunities Kitchen (OK) for the last 6 months. They have found a niche working with graduates of high school and youth with a GED, filling and unmet need in our education system. OK uses an unconventional delivery of educational and generational wisdom that is assumed but not operating within the education framework. The morning class discusses the issues each student needs to address. But the classroom is an industrial kitchen (at St. Aiden Episcopal Church in Rockwood), and the class is led by well-known chefs in Portland. They teach the skills required to run a kitchen, and incorporate healthy living practices, food creation, and management.

The curriculum is based on developing employment and job creation skills. The students manage an herb garden from seed to plant, and learn to create resumes and prepare for job interviews. After cooking in the framework of culinary ethics and eating together, students visit employers on site visits and do hands on projects that are required in the business. For example, when they visit the NW College of Construction they can apply while on site.

This 10-day program has become a designated post-graduate partner with Reynolds schools. The goal is help students understand that it is their life to decide what to do with. OK continues to help graduates through a cohort that offers services and counsel for 5 years. Its success is clear: when the program operated at a juvenile facility 14 of the 17 young men we instructed had a job by the end of the program. This curriculum has shown me how our delivery of education and information has got to adapt to be relevant to our next generations. This program is and will be the game changer in post graduate education!!!!