Welcome Hall Mission's catering service gives street kids the chance to learn life skills

Welcome Hall Mission

When you think of the Welcome Hall Mission, you don't usually think of catering services.

The St. Henri-based institution has set up the Micro Experience Program, which gives at-risk teens and young adults the opportunity to work in a kitchen preparing gourmet food, and more importantly, according to its CEO Sam Watts, it allows them to learn the kinds of life skills they would need when they go out looking for a job.

"For about the last 20 years, Welcome Hall Mission has been really active in the whole youth sector," Watts told CJAD 800's Andrew Carter. "One of the things we try to do with young people in difficult situations...we try to help them re-orient themselves back into education, or to learn something."

Watts says the program goes far beyond just helping street youth find work in the restaurant sector.

"It's one thing to go get a job and to have the skills of knowing how to use a knife in the kitchen," he says. "It's quite another to be able to know how to work with an employer and what's typically required of us as human beings as we go into the job market."

Participants in the program typically work a full workweek for modest compensation, and are mentored by accomplished chefs.

And, it seems, the catering service is doing some brisk business — Watts says they've catered events for the City of Montreal and McGill University, among others.

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