October 17, 2011

Work Force Development Program

Posted in Residential at 4:02 pm by Lund

Photos and Story by Cat Cutillo/Lund Family Center

April’s love for cooking began early. She came from a big cooking family and later attended the culinary program at Essex High School. Now, she’s turning her passion for cooking into a career with the help of the Work Force Development program at Lund Family Center.

The Work Force Development program, provides residents of Lund and community based participants with an opportunity to gain real life employment skills, by partnering with agency staff as their onsite supervisor, to assess their employment goals, skills, strengths, areas of growth and to support the client in moving toward paid employment in the community or in accessing additional vocational and/or educational training to further enhance their ability to move toward self-sufficiency.

Photo by Cat Cutillo/Lund Family Center

The Work Force Development Program is funded through collaboration with Lund, the Agency of Human Services- Economic Services Division work site grant, Parent Child Center grant funding, and a new partnership with the Child Development Division, on a federal Learning Together, Pregnant and Parenting Teen grant.

Through this program participants earn a small stipend per hour which provides not only additional monetary incentives but also helps them to see the value of work and to begin savings plans, address debt issues, work on money management skills and have additional financial resources to support their families.

Participants in the program have also noted that working helps them to show their children the importance of employment, following routine, gaining skills to improve their future in the hopes that their children will see them as a role model for their educational and vocational aspirations as they grow up.

April, a resident at Lund and a mother to a 3-year old daughter, has been working in Lund’s Food Services Program since June of this year. Dinah Larsen, Lund’s Food Services Specialist, has been April’s supervisor through this eight month placement. Initially April expressed to her Reach Up Case Manager, Danielle Gingue, an interest in working with Dinah in the kitchen as April had already been informally volunteering to help Dinah in meal preparation.  April and the rest of her team at Lund agreed to start out with a work placement of six hours a week, which quickly grew into a 25 hour a week placement. As quickly as her work hours grew, so did April’s competence in the kitchen and her confidence in herself.

April has blossomed through her work training. The success and hard work in treatment has paid off as she begins to seek paid employment in the community and works to secure housing for herself and her daughter in the next two months.

“I wanted to do it with Dinah because she’s really spunky and fun,” says April who insists the two have nothing in common but still get along famously. Dinah agrees it has been a perfect match and says April has been a tremendous team-player.

“She’ll do the scut work as well as the fun stuff and that to me is part of a job, any job. There’s always going to be some part of it that isn’t pretty. I think that makes you a better parent as well because you’re going to be able to show your daughter that hard work pays off and it isn’t always easy and it isn’t always pretty, but in the end there’s a payoff,” says Dinah who can now plan more complicated meals on the days she has April’s help.

The program has also helped April outside of the kitchen.

“It definitely helped me get to my classes after lunch because I always ended up having perfect attendance on the days that I had replication because I really liked it,” says April who is also pursuing her GED through Lund’s New Horizon’s education program.

Photo by Cat Cutillo/Lund Family Center

The Work Force Development program is designed to transition residents into the workforce and April says its helped train her in basic ways like showing up for work on time to more job-specific ways like cooking for a large group of people.

“It helped me remember what its like working because its been a while since I’ve had a job so it definitely helped me there and its definitely helped build my confidence like being able to actually go into a place (and ask) if they’re hiring,” says April who says the experience has already paid off.

“It opened the door. Instead of making things less possible, it made things seem more possible [to April] and I’ve seen that,” says Dinah.

If you would like to learn more the Work Force Development program at Lund Family Center please contact Tammy Santamore at 802-864-7467 Ext 1039 or TammyS@lundfamilycenter.org.


  1. Judith B. Larsen said,

    What a wonderful opportunity for April and Dinah! Great going, both of you. Judy Larsen

  2. Keely Breen said,

    Go April! As the recipient of a truly delicious going away cake (funfetti, my fave) I can attest to your awesomeness in the kitchen! Keep it up!

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