Twin Orchard CC has embraced a leading role in a training program to help residents of Little City learn marketable foodservice skills.
On March 30, Twin Orchard Country Club in Long Grove, Ill., hosted a cooking class, but it wasn’t for members. The gathering was the culmination of a six-week training program for residents of Little City, an organization that provides services to individuals with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the Chicago area.
The Greater Chicago Club Managers Association (GCCMA), in conjunction with its foundation, developed the program while seeking out “a meaningful endeavor” for its endowment, says Gavin Speirs, who serves both as General Manager of Twin Orchard and Secretary for the GCCMA Foundation Board. First, the organization donated $130,000 to build a commercial training kitchen at Little City’s campus that would feed residents.
Then, Speirs and Twin Orchard’s Food & Beverage Director, Ben Janssen, created a program that would train the residents to be viable candidates for employment in a commercial kitchen. Speirs and Janssen worked with Little City to ensure that the curriculum was appropriate for the participating residents.
“We had the good fortune to have already had a Little City resident, Howard Bynum, working with us at the club for the last six years, and he became a critical component in the training,” Speirs says.
After six weeks of training twice a week at the Little City facility, the class gathered at Twin Orchard for one last class: preparing food for their own graduation ceremony. The class took a tour of the kitchen and worked with the club’s sous chefs to prepare salads, chicken, shrimp and mini-hot dogs.
“We walked into the kitchen and the first thing the class did, without us telling them, was line up at the sinks to wash their hands,” Speirs says.
Each participant received written learning material and a certificate of completion. The graduates will now work with Little City’s Employment First Team to discuss how to pursue employment opportunities and put their newly obtained knowledge and talent to work.
In the meantime, the Twin Orchard staff is looking forward to the next round of training. “Right now, we’re in the busy season—but once we get into winter and slow down a bit, we’ll be champing at the bit to go back and do the training again,” Speirs says.