Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dine Out and Support Job Creation

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan

Dining out is my guilty pleasure. Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, I enjoy the experience of a great meal with good people. Camaraderie and indulgence excite me. I never thought my love for dining would converge with my work -- investing in employment opportunities for local residents -- until I learned about Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan (ROC-Michigan) and COLORS Detroit.
ROC-Michigan is committed to improving the rights and wages of restaurant workers throughout Southeastern Michigan. The restaurant and hospitality sector have seen the fastest growth, thanks in part to the casinos and reinvestment projects in our region.
The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund has invested in ROC-Michigan's newly formed restaurant, COLORS Detroit, patterned after the COLORS New York City establishment, which was created after restaurant workers in the World Trade Center lost their lives during the tragic events of 9/11.
The Detroit restaurant is located in Harmony Park and serves as a full-service restaurant and training ground for local residents who seek to learn or advance their fine dining restaurant service skills. Harmony Park is resurging as a cool place to hangout in Detroit, and COLORS is proving to be a place where young, eclectic groups dine for lunch. One phenomenal aspect about COLORS is that it is not only providing good, locally grown food, but it's also helping people like Alice Meeks regain her footing in the workforce.
After years as a homemaker, Alice came to the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan looking to create something for herself that she had never really had before -- a job with a career path. Alice had a naturally appealing smile and strong communication skills (the hospitality industry was a great fit). She enrolled in ROC's 10-week food service and hospitality training program, and graduated class valedictorian with the highest grades on her certification exams. Upon graduation, she was hired into a union job with benefits at Ford Field.
"At COLORS, I learned all the front of the house skills and techniques to facilitate me as being a leader, a leader that I always knew I was," Alice said.
ROC-Michigan is supported in part by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund. So why not treat yourself to some good food, while supporting a business that strives to improve the lives of its residents.