As a longtime resident of the Glenwood neighborhood, Jermaine has known for years that Dobbins CTE High School was a Community School with programs for students – and this year, he found out how much Community Schools offer residents and neighbors like him.
In February, Jermaine enrolled in the UNITE HERE Philadelphia Hospitality Academy at Dobbins, which is run by labor union UNITE HERE. The program is entirely free for participants and offers job training in service industry skills, especially cooking. Best of all, everyone who completes the training program is connected to a union job. For Jermaine’s cohort, the guaranteed jobs are at Citizens Bank Park.
Jermaine had previous experiences working in the cooking industry, but struggled to find a job that could provide consistent hours and a livable wage. When his wife – a classroom assistant at Dobbins – mentioned the program, he felt the stars align for him.
“I was real excited about it, I thought it would be really good for me.”
Steady work in a union is good for Jermaine, where he has the safety to start planning for the long term. “Now that I’m here I’d like to stay here. I want to come back every season and have this steady income.”
Which he can, thanks to the job security provided by working within a union. And as an Aramark employee, Jermaine can now work at other entertainment venues including Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center, all year round.
The course at Dobbins, Jermaine said, prepared him for the successful career that he’s eager to continue. Along with connecting him to his union job it covered everything from safety training, to food prep basics, and hands on training in Dobbins’ recently renovated culinary learning center — skills he will utilize for years to come.
This is not the first time that UNITE HERE has partnered with Dobbins. Since the summer of 2017, UNITE HERE has regularly hosted trainings aimed at getting local residents union jobs in the culinary sector. Students who graduated last year got jobs at Citizens Bank as well, while alumni of the inaugural class were hired by Bar Symon, located in Terminal B of the Philadelphia International Airport. Altogether, more than 100 residents of the Glenwood neighborhood have completed the program and gone onto gainful employment, thanks to this program.
For Charles Reyes, Community School Coordinator at Dobbins CTE, it was obvious why Dobbins would want to partner with UNITE HERE.
“They are able to make partnerships and opportunities happen for populations that would never be able to get over barriers to so much as fill out the application. They do what they say they do: Unite here, at Dobbins.”
Jermaine said he now sees how Dobbins and the work that Community School Coordinator Charles Reyes help community members, and he is a big supporter. In fact, he wants to make sure everyone knows about what’s happening at Dobbins, including weekly favorite events at the school including Fresh For All Wednesdays provided by Philabundance, and health-focused Get Fit Saturdays.
“I’m telling everyone to go to Dobbins for what they need… there’s something new each week that people can use. I plan on sending my child there when she is old enough. It’s a great school … I think all the schools should be [Community Schools].”
It’s now been almost a month at Aramark for Jermaine, and he and his classmates are succeeding thanks to the program. “I saw some of the other people who I graduated with all in their stands so that was cool, to see that we’re all working, and this program really delivered.”