The second cohort graduation ceremony was Friday, Jan. 31 at the Legacy Café in Natchitoches. Founder and Board Chair Claire Prymus welcomed the crowd of volunteers, donors, board members and the four graduates with their families. Executive Director Dallas Russell highlighted the center’s accomplishments over the last year, including opening the Legacy Café, starting the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program and creating the Ben Johnson Garden.
The program culminated with Program Instructor JoAnna Cooper acknowledging each student’s accomplishments and providing them with their Legacy Foodservice and Hospitality Training program certificate. The program participants gained skills over 16 weeks through classroom instruction and hands-on learning during their rotations at the Legacy Café. Offered four times a year, the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program offers young adults ages 17 to 24 who are out of work and out of school, training in career development, culinary, life and leadership skills while receiving support to overcome their barriers to employment.
Graduates extolled the virtues of the program. Keyairra Mitchell said, “I stayed motivated through the program because of the kindness and encouragement of the staff at the BDJ center.” “I want to be able to provide for my family and the BDJ center has taught me how to do that,” said Mario Jackson.
Akeadra Nash said she participated in the program, “to better myself and my situation for the sake of my children.” Indenysia Johnson stayed motivated to participate because of her daughter. She said, “Attending the program helped me with my communication skills.”