A new social enterprise aims to provide under-housed substance users with practical skills and certifications through six months of training and a job placement opportunity. Lionhearts Inc., with the guidance of the Support Not Stigma program, is launching a catering business in the new year, to provide these important and necessary opportunities.
Since its launch in 2014, Lionhearts Inc. has been serving people and organizations in the greater Kingston area through “acts of practical love,” the organization said in a media release. One of the primary ways Lionhearts has made a contribution to the community is through its food rescue program, which annually recovers millions of dollars worth of nutritious food from local businesses to be shared with food banks and other front-line food-providing agencies serving our community.
“This is a way of rebuilding self-confidence and helping our interns to recognize their value,” said Travis Blackmore, Executive Director of Lionhearts Inc., in a statement. “It is less about the work itself and more about their ability to contribute, be productive, and meaningfully support themselves. We’re pleased to have this opportunity to help restore dignity, serve our interns with acts of practical love, and provide a useful service to the community.”
According to the release, the program is managed by two talented Lionhearts chefs: James Marcil-Cavé and Erik Seiffert. The organization noted that the program is currently training three interns in the Lionhearts kitchens with a capacity for six.
Lionhearts said that it is grateful to Trellis HIV & Community Care for their “leadership in engaging Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) and working to bring partners like us into the Support Not Stigma programming, which is guided by a five-pillar strategy aimed at providing a hand up to substance users so they can rebuild their lives.”
Support Not Stigma unites six local organizations including Trellis HIV and Community Care, ReStart Kingston Employment Services, John Howard Society, Kingston Youth Diversion, Resolve Counselling Services Kingston, and Lionhearts Inc.
“For a lot of folks, [this programming] is instilling value and confidence so they can re-enter the workforce,” shared Julie Langan, Executive Director of ReStart and the John Howard Society of Kingston. “For a lot of them, they are only seen as substance users, they’re not seen as mothers, brothers, uncles, fathers, they don’t have those identities anymore. So for us to be able to say, ‘Now you can be an employee,’ we have to build that up, we have to show them the skill that they have or the skill they thought they lost.”
Those interested in entering the training program or learning more about catering available through Lionhearts should contact Emma Cox by email at [email protected], or by phone at (613) 876-5427. Lionhearts said that more information and menus will be announced in January 2023.