Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley provides vocational training and opportunities
Decent career opportunities usually don’t present themselves to disadvantaged youth who grow up in low-income households with Spanish-speaking only parents. However, through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley’s Club Vocational Initiative program, these children are offered vocation opportunities and guidance that will enable them to compete in today’s workforce. Many well-paying jobs that are in demand now or will be in the upcoming years do not necessarily require a college degree, but they do require high-quality vocational training. It all starts with the organization’s Pizza Kitchen.
“Pre-pandemic, with the support of a generous donor, we were able to implement the Pizza Kitchen vocational initiative program,” said the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley President and CEO Dr. Quinton Egson. “This program exposes youth to several business components. It teaches kids the importance of teamwork, being punctual, producing and selling a product, supply, and demand, budgeting, etc.”
Dr. Egson’s favorite part of the program is exposing children to various career opportunities.
“We’ve had business owners, chefs, pilots, and managers speak to our kids about preparing for their future. This program can serve as a model for children to understand and prepare for their career aspirations. We are excited about what we’ve done, what we are doing, and what we do in the future.”
Other benefits of this after-school cooking program are improved food-related preferences such as increased vegetable and fruit consumption. This culinary program exposes students to a real-life environment, as well as nutritional knowledge, cooking attitudes, self-efficacy, responsibility, business operations, and so much more. The primary focus is to use the John Carroll and Jim O’Brien Indio Clubhouse’s industrial kitchen and pizza oven as a launchpad for members to acquire employability skills necessary for success in their post-secondary pursuits.
One past Club Kid, Jeffery Morris, who is now the operations manager of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Palm Springs, benefitted greatly from his Boys & Girls experience as a kid. “I learned how to cook, prepare, serve, and charge for food,” said Morris. “I learned how to operate in all functions of the kitchen, quality control, inventory levels, and measurements. I was given skills to be successful for the rest of my life. I have spent 27 years in hospitality and can now look back and say that I’m a successful restaurant operator due to what I learned at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley Indio Clubhouse. It is an awesome opportunity for kids to pick a tool that can be used for life.”
Morris was the first guest speaker for this session. Tiffany Mata, who oversees Club Pizzeria, was thrilled with the experience and what it meant to the kids. “There were 37 in attendance the day that Jeffery spoke. We were able to enjoy delicious Raising Cane’s food while Jeffery spoke about how he got started in the food industry. The more he shared is background, the more the kids were able to relate to him. They saw a person just like them. We also had our director, Tracy Reed, as a guest speaker. She talked about how she started her business called Xylinna Rose Cookies. Tracy let them know that she can only walk in her shoes, and they can only walk in their own shoes, but we all have a story to tell. It was very inspiring.”
For more information, please visit www.bgcofcv.org or call 760-347-5412
- Vocational training: Photos provided by Boys & Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley staff