Toledo’s Cherry Street Mission provides training, education

(Left to Right) Derrick Parker, Derrion Boyd, Kiara Houston, Michael Bartley, Jaquan Overbey, Chris Braswell. Six graduates of the Workforce Development Program, receiving certificates through the Automotive Oil Change Association. Image courtesy of Tami Norris.

Cherry Street Mission Ministries partners with local educators and employers for providing training and education in the trade workforce.

(Left to Right) Derrick Parker, Derrion Boyd, Kiara Houston, Michael Bartley, Jaquan Overbey, Chris Braswell. Six graduates of the Workforce Development Program, receiving certificates through the Automotive Oil Change Association. Image courtesy of Tami Norris.

The Cherry Street Mission Ministries along with Northwest State Community College, Opportunity Kitchen and Owens Community College, started the Workforce Development Program. This provides training in areas of Office Specialist, Building Trades, Welding, Tool and Die, Manufacturing, Automotive Technician and Culinary Arts. Each of these training programs are tied to careers that are in demand in our region. Cherry Street collaborates with over 50 employers and job placement services in the area to build the bridge to employment.

On July 1, six graduates from the Workforce Development Program received certificates through the Automotive Oil Change Association. Together, Northwest State Community College and Cherry Street provide a combination of technical, hands-on training with the job readiness skills that will help them overcome the barriers that are keeping them from successful employment.

We spoke with a representative from the Cherry Street Mission Ministries to learn more about this program.

What led to having this program started?
The Workforce Development programs at Cherry Street Mission Ministries started around 2015 with our first classes graduating in 2016. The idea came as part of a holistic system we were building here at the Life Revitalization Center (LRC). Our goal is to come alongside people to help them build stability in housing, income, and relationships. Part of the income goal is a sustainable career that pays a livable wage. Often some type of education is needed for those jobs, not necessarily a degree, but hands-on training with some type of certification. The five programs we offer here are based on market demand and input from our employer partners and Ohio Means Jobs.

Why not just send them to a college partner?
Our college partners are a vital part of this training. The programs we offer here at Cherry Street have been customized to fit the needs of our guests and employer partners. In addition to the technical skills training, participants receive job readiness training to help them overcome some of the barriers they may have had to successful employment. These topics include emotional intelligence, prioritization, conflict resolution, avoiding self-sabotage, financial literacy, and more. Additionally, here at the LRC we offer job search assistance and tutoring in our skills lab. Cherry Street also has mental health service and meals being served out of the LRC so it becomes a hub of activity all under one roof.

The automotive program specifically started as we were hearing of demand from area employers for service technicians and quick lube technicians. These jobs did not specifically need ASE certification, but it was helpful for new employees to have a foundation in automotive topics such as tools, how the engine works, how to change brakes, oil, etc. This program was designed to bridge the gap to employment.

How did Northwest State CC and the Automotive Oil Change Association come into the mix?
Owens Community College and Northwest State Community College have been our educational partners since the inception of our Workforce Development programs. Northwest State had put together an automotive training program at the Defiance Dream Center in Defiance, Ohio that included the AOCA certification. They were able to modify the program under advisement from our employer partners Tireman and Yark Automotive to fit needs in the Toledo area that we could then offer here at Cherry Street.

(Left to Right) David Conover, Mike Kocinski, Jaquan Overbey, Derrick Parker, Kiara Houston, Michael Bartley, Devon Fitzpatrick, Jean Rowland-Poplawski. Image courtesy of Tami Norris.

What kind of demand for people in the trades are you seeing? Any particular industries more than others?
The programs that we offer were selected based on industry information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Lucas County In Demand Job List and input from our employer partners. We want to make sure that we are training for open positions, in encouraging/supportive environments that benefit the students and our community.

When I was in school (class of 2014), college and the military were the highest-encouraged postgraduate routes. When did you see the shift in encouraging students to pursue the trades?
I see the trades as a viable option. These jobs provide the opportunity for stable, entry-level jobs that provide opportunity for education along with the work. They are a great alternative for people who did not thrive in a traditional academic setting. To me, learning is a life-long adventure. Each person has a unique path, there is no one right way. Personally, I am somewhere in my 50’s and I am back in grad school at BGSU. Not a traditional path, but it is right for me. I am seeing more and more high school counselors embrace this idea that there are options and you have to pick what is right for you.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
The Workforce Development programs offered at Cherry Street are non-credit. We designed this intentionally as some of our guests do not yet have a GED or High School diploma. We encourage them to pursue completing that, but wanted to make sure it was not a barrier to them continuing their career-based education and employment. The college partners offer certificates of completion and the programs have an industry recognized credential that students can complete as part of the training.

For more information about Cherry Street Mission Ministries, please visit the Cherry Street Mission website.