Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program hosts graduation ceremony


The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center (BDJ Center) hosted its fourth graduation ceremony for students in the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program. After receiving sixteen weeks of professional development, culinary training and applicable life skills education, three graduates are closer to brighter future opportunities.

Honorees are Torroneisha Bowers, Raven Phillips and Emilee Vaughn. These students started the program with several barriers to employment and were able to remove those barriers with the help of the BDJ Center staff.

These students are now trained in food service and customer care. They can budget their finances, manage their time, communicate, handle their affairs, set goals, plan for their future and go on to be self-sufficient members of society. All they need are opportunities from employers in this community. If interested in placing one in their graduates, contact the BDJ Center.

The LYWD Program was created to combat the unfortunate circumstances that many young adults in Natchitoches Parish find themselves in. Nearly 47% of the population in Natchitoches lives below the poverty line, which compared to the national average of 13.1%, is shocking. The largest portion of those living in poverty in Natchitoches are those between the ages of 18-24, and these are the individuals the BDJ Center aim to transform in their workforce development training program.

“We believe the LYWD Program is essential to the youth of Natchitoches and our community. We provide an option for young adults and we set them on the path towards a sustainable life, free of barriers,” said JoAnna Cooper, the Executive Director of the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center. “The Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program’s staff provide a safe place for young people to learn and to grow. We meet them where they are, then help to guide them where they need to be for success. Everyone deserves a chance.”

“I’ve learned a lot from the Legacy Workforce Training Program,” said student Emilee Vaughn. “I received my ServSafe Certification and I’ve improved my communication skills. I would recommend the training to other youth who want a career in foodservice.”

For more information on the BDJ Center’s training program or to donate, visit www.bdjcenter.org, call (318) 460-7460 or email info@bdjcenter.org.