Homeless Shelter Transforms Old Facility Into Restaurant To Employ Their Own Residents

They'll create 50 rotating jobs for homeless people.

Credit: Light House

Credit: Light House

When Light House Shelter in Annapolis, Michigan moved facilities last year, they struggled to sell the old building and decided to get creative by fusing an existing program with the old facility. With the help of grants, donations, and free service offerings, the shelter is now close to accomplishing their goal: creating an all-new restaurant that employs homeless people to help them get back on their feet.

The restaurant will be a 50-seat bistro and coffee shop that will simultaneously boost community traffic and outreach and give invaluable training to homeless people looking to obtain skills.

The shelter already runs a program called Building Employment Success Training (BEST), which gives “training and paid internships in culinary arts, facilities maintenance and landscaping and data entry.” With the 16-week employment curriculum comes a variety of skills that teach the employees about workforce preparation, communication, interpersonal skills, and facing challenges.

Credit: Light House

Credit: Light House

It’s a unique approach to helping to end homelessness; develop a business that generates revenue while helping homeless people face future employment, and then put the excess proceeds back into the shelter to continue to combat homelessness. Elizabeth Kinney, executive director of Light House, confirmed this when she spoke with the Capital Gazette:

“Any revenue stream from the restaurant, coffee bar and take-out will be poured back into the Light House Shelter and its training programs.”

Though the building is still under renovation right now, it will employ people currently in the BEST program as well as graduates. The restaurant will immediately require 25 people to be on the staff, and the positions would constantly be rotating and opening up as graduates move on and hopefully find another job and permanent housing. By the end of the first year, 50 jobs will be available.

Light House hopes that their initiative is successful enough to inspire other shelters and organizations to take on similar programs. Addressing the root causes of homelessness and fighting them head on with opportunities such as this is what will truly combat the epidemic. While Light House continues to rebuild their facility, dozens of homeless people are soon to have their lives rebuilt by this program.

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