Getting back on your feet

April 7, 2009 3:40:06 PM PDT
A Camden County non-profit, whose mission is to help people get back on their feet, is getting a major boost Tuesday night. Andre Andujar is an assistant manager at Taco Bell in Berlin. He dropped out of high school but credits a culinary arts program operated by the Camden non-profit Respond Incorporated with helping him find direction.

He took the 16 week course and one of his teachers was Chef Shawn Harris.

"He's just as tough as a chef or a restaurant manager would be on you and I think that's crucial on the success of the people that graduate the program," said Andre.

"We try to teach them from the prep-wise how to prepare the food to the clean and sanitize, to hygiene and also the proper temperature of the food up to the plate and how to present," explained Chef Shawn.

For six years Shawn Harris has been teaching young people, some of them sent by the courts, in a tiny kitchen in a north Camden row home but that is about to change. Next week he will be teaching in new kitchens.

On April 16th the ribbon will be cut on a $4.6 million job development center in north Camden. It will house industrial kitchens and even a new auto tech program.

Executive director Wilbert Mitchell expects to train 180 students a year.

"We've been very successful in placing our people in casinos, hotels, restaurants."

The current economy won't make job seeking easy but Respond hopes the new facility will train people like Andre Andujar to be ready when it turns around.

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