Kitchen Helper Training helps Barry Gain “Skills for the Job of Living.”

Posted 08-07-15 by In Our Graduates


Proclaiming a goal, out loud, is a critical step toward making it real. Stating a goal sets up a signpost, somewhere in the future, that helps direct and focus one’s efforts. HWTC emphasizes that our programs deliver jobs at the end of training, but we also understand the value of the journey itself for training participants. As one wise person said “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

On a wintery afternoon, Barry told his Occupational Therapist, Erica Schott, that he wanted a job. Erica didn’t yet know what job she would help Barry find, but she immediately recognized the significance of Barry’s pronouncement.

A year prior to sharing this goal with Erica, Barry, who has schizophrenia, seemed to be pulling back from the programs he used to frequent at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Downtown West Outpatient Clinic (formerly Archway). Erica understood that Barry’s goal-setting was a sign of hope and an opportunity to engage him in the process of living a self-directed life.  Training for a job would give Barry a chance to control critical aspects of his life like his identity, his daily routine and his access to income; things many of us take for granted in our working lives.

Erica and Barry worked together to navigate opportunities for training and work.

Barry attended one of the Hospitality Workers Training Centre’s information sessions with Erica, which was then followed by a one-on-one interview. Barry was selected for HWTC’s 8 week Kitchen Helper training program at HWTC’s social enterprise training restaurant, Hawthorne Food and Drink. For two months, Barry travelled through harsh winter weather to get to Hawthorne and give it his all. Barry likes working in the kitchen, which he says is,  “fun and interesting. It made me feel useful and productive.”  Hawthorne Chef Ricky Caispe recalls: “It was almost hard to keep up with Barry. He was always looking for something to do. He was always curious, asking a lot of good questions. I see that as a sign of real engagement in the training process.” After completing training, Barry tested his new skills at a part time position Exhibition Place where he’ll return in the fall.

Barry’s determination to pursue his educational goals  culminated in him receiving an Archie Award, an annual ceremony that recognizes Archway clients who have made remarkable progress on the road to recovery. For Barry, the award was a shiny symbol of what he already now knows: he can set goals and accomplish them.  A big congrats to Barry for who he became by working so hard to achieve his goal.

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