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Kinship Community Food Center 

There’s something to be said about how a genuine moment, like preparing a meal, can evolve into an exchange of stories, ideas, trust, and cooperation. In the instance of the Food Center Training program at Kinship Community Food Center, these experiences go far beyond the kitchen.  

Food Center Director, Caitlin Cullen (left) helped launch the first cohort of individuals in Paid Work Experiences at Kinship’s Food Center through Employ Milwaukee’s Skillful Transitions (WAI) grant.  After owning her own restaurant, Caitlin now finds fulfilment empowering others at Kinship. The program allows participants to gain temporary work experience by learning culinary skills and the professional development needed to take the next step in their employment journey.  Caitlin looks forward to expanding the program to include more participants and possibly catering events. 

“What keeps me going is being the change I want to see. We’re a community resource that’s looking to make a long-term effect, both for our community and those in the program.” 

Orlando Pacheco (right) started volunteering at Kinship when he first heard about the program. He was enrolled in the Skillful Transitions grant to start a “transitional job” or Paid Work Experience at $17/hr. that will last for about four to five months, so he can continue to hone his skills. Orlando’s story of perseverance and opportunity embodies the mission and goals of the Skillful Transitions (WAI) grant by empowering Milwaukee jobseekers and their community. 

“It gives me hope and it keeps me going. It allows me to be an example of someone who is doing something good. Even when some of us didn’t believe in ourselves, [they] saw talent and they wanted to help me improve. I’m grateful,” Orland said. 

The Skillful Transitions (WAI) grant assists businesses and non-profits like Kinship by funding the wages for these limited term jobs.  Participants in Paid Work Experiences work up to 29 hours a week while Employ Milwaukee serves as the Employer of Record.   

The Skillful Transitions (WAI) grant is funded using American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (ARPA SLFRF).   

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