The Lunch Program, one of the cornerstone programs at GTL, is an all-encompassing training platform for participants. Whether they are folding linen, counting lunch orders, or reading recipe ingredients, participants from one of five production centers are practicing their manual and cognitive skills in daily life activities. Approximately 60 participants touch some part of the process that produces a nutritional and tasty lunch for approximately 50 individuals each day. It takes organization, a project management plan, an index of tasks broken down by skills, and a synchronization of diverse activities to have it all come together each day at 12:00 pm.
More importantly are the skills being honed – counting lunch orders and side dishes, measuring ingredients, reading recipes, cleaning the food facilities, washing cookware, organizing the cupboards, setting up the food carts, and performing food preparation skills such as stirring, cutting, and shredding. These skills are exercised in a particular production center – menu inventory, ingredients and kitchen supply delivery, food preparation, laundry, and cleaning maintenance. All five centers work in harmony to get lunch on the table and clean-up completed.
Participants, with the input of their parents or guardian, choose the production center in which he or she wants to work. Their progress is checked regularly, but for many of them, it’s all about doing the work they enjoy. In the words of one participant who echoed the unanimous sentiment of her peers, “We get the job done!” It’s a grand accomplishment every day.
The true magnitude of the Lunch Program is realized in meeting its main objective – self-sufficiency and transference of skills to home life. Before learning how to program a microwave, Kim was randomly pressing buttons. Then there’s Mario whose mother did everything for him. Through the Lunch Program, he now makes his own sandwiches at home. ViVi, with proper training, learned how to use a knife to slice cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. She is now the salad maker at her house. Also, Nii has become the baker in his family as a result of following the chocolate chip cookie recipe used for Dorothy’s Can-Do Cafe.
Congratulations to them and to all participants who taken one step closer to reaching their fullest potential.
She is described by some as “feisty on the outside and soft on the inside.” She takes command of any situation with her no-nonsense, common sense approach, and everyone knows they’re in good hands with Staci Patterson-Green. Staci arrived at Gateway 24 years ago by bus, so-to-speak. She was a bus driver transporting the 3–21 aged students to and from Gateway. Three years later, she was invited to join the staff as a development trainer.
Today, Staci supervises and trains participants in the preparation of specials, sides, and desserts for the GTL Lunch Program. Her training philosophy is about giving participants control over their performance. She treats them as decision-makers – the highest form of empowerment. Her work pays off when a parent tells her that their child never could perform a certain task and that now he or she can. Her style is not without a tender touch. As she puts it, “Once they come through that door, they’re mine!”
Her dedication to the Gateway’s mission is expressed through additional roles, which she has voluntarily taken on over the years. For Staci, she is a nurse, the morning greeter as she receives participants into the building, an instructor of learning and recreational activities, and an errand runner. Whatever is needed in the moment, she is there to procure it or volunteer for it.
To quote Staci: “Many people work at jobs they don’t care about. I love my job because I’m helping these individuals do something different, something that at one time was not seen as possible for them. I’m so proud of the GTL participants.”
Hopefully you were inspired by the story above about our Lunch Program and see the benefits that it provides individuals at home, at GTL, and hopefully at a future job. Because of the consistent use of equipment and supplies in our Lunch Program, GTL is in search of donors willing to donate:
Featured Charity – Gateway to Learning Special Education and Training Center:
CharityChoice Gift Cards will benefit Gateway to Learning Special Education and Training Center
and the charities your gift-recipient designate as well.
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