Counting Down the Last 13 Days of 2013

Last 13 Days of 2013

It’s been an amazing year at Growing Home, and we couldn’t have done it without support from all of you!
Leading up to the end of the year, Growing Home will be counting down the Last 13 Days of 2013, and sharing some of our favorite moments and successes from this year.
Even though winter is upon us and our farms may appear dormant, we are still busy preparing for an even better 2014. Please consider donating to our Annual Campaign to support our continued growth in next year. 

#1 – One Brand New Hoophouse

#1 Hoophouse

Today is the LAST day of our Countdown to the end of 2013! So we want to THANK YOU for helping us to build 1 brand new hoop house at our Honore St. urban farm, made possible by our Kickstarter supporters! The hoop house will increase our production by about 25% next year!

#2- Two Open Houses

#2 Open House

Growing Home hosted 2 Open Houses at our Wood St. urban farm in 2013, bringing more than 300 friends, neighbors and supporters to the farm for tours, workshops, and snacks prepared by our program graduates. See more photos here:

#3- Chickens Lay 3 eggs/week in Winter

#3 Chickens

Did you know we keep chickens at our Les Brown Memorial Farm? Over the winter, our chickens lay 3 eggs per week (rather than daily eggs during the warmer months). Support our chickens by donating to Growing Home:

#4- Eataly hired 4 Growing Home graduates

#4 Eataly

We’re celebrating DAY 4 on our countdown by remembering when 4 Growing Home graduates from 2013 Cohort 2 were hired by Eataly Chicago, a new gourmet market that opened in December!

#5- Five CSA Pick-Up Locations

#5 CSA

Growing Home delivers to 5 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pick up sites. We supply beautiful boxes of certified organic produce throughout Chicagoland each season, grown by our farm staff and job training participants.

#6 – Legal Assistance Provided to Six Graduates

#6 Sealing CGLA

This year, 6 graduates of our job training program successfully sealed or expunged their criminal records, with assistance from Cabrini Green Legal Aid. Read more about how Growing Home assists our graduates with their criminal records in this blog post –

#7 – ServSafe Food Manager Certificates earned by 7 Graduates

#7 ServSafe

This year, 7 participants in our transitional job training program passed their ServSafe food safety exam. The ServSafe Manager certificate is a requirement for many food-related jobs, like day care facilities and hospitals and it has opened up job options for several of our graduates.

Bonus #8 – Honey at #8 on Chicago Tribune Holiday Favorites List

#8 Honey

We’ve got a Bonus #8 on Last 13 Days of 2013 Countdown! Growing Home’s organic honey landed at #8 on Mary Schmich’s holiday favorites list in the Chicago Tribune.

#8 – 8 New Employer Contacts for Job Placements

#8 Employer Frontera

This year, we made 8 new employer partner contacts to which Growing Home can make direct referrals for job placements. Growing Home now has 20 employer partners who we work with to make sustainable job placements.

#9 – Nine Beds of Organic Tomatoes

#9 Tomatoes

At our Les Brown Memorial farm in Marseilles we planted 9 beds of beautiful organic tomatoes this year!

#10 – 10 Sustainable Job Placements for Graduates

#10 Placements

This year, 10 graduates were placed in “sustainable” jobs after graduating from our program, meaning full-time, permanent jobs, making at least $10/hour, with at least one benefit (paid vacation, sick days, health insurance,). Overall, Growing Home’s job placement rate in 2013 was 90%!

#11 – Growing Home is 11 Years Old!

#11 11 Years

Growing Home has been around for 11 years! Since we were founded in 2002, we have provided job training to more than 300 Chicagoans on our organic farm sites. Thank you for supporting us to make this possible!

#12 – 12 Job Training Participants from Greater Englewood

 #12 Englewood

This year, 12 participants in our  transitional job training program lived in Greater Englewood, where our Wood St. and Honore St. urban farm sites are located. (That’s more than 1/3 of people in the job training program). We seek to be strong neighbors and partners in the Englewood community, through our transitional job training program, Wood St. farm stand, and other community events and programming throughout the year.

Lucky #13 – Job Placement Success for the Class of 2013

#13 Class of 2013 Success

As the year is wrapping up, and before we officially move on to 2014, let’s take a moment to celebrate the good news and accomplishments of 2013.

In particular, we have some extremely good news regarding job placements among this year’s Growing Home interns.

The job placement rate for both Cohorts in 2013 is 90%. This makes 2013 our most successful year yet.

This is the best evidence that we are accomplishing our mission, and we look forward to building on the success and lessons learned from our 2013 job training curriculum for next year.

Growing Home has been training people with barriers to employment since 2002, with over 300 people working and training through our programs over the last 11 years. The average placement rate has typically been between 60-70%, which we have considered a success, particularly when you consider all the barriers that many of our interns face.

The fact that the job placement rate this year is 90% is incredible! And they are not just any jobs, but good jobs with good growth potential, and many include benefits. 

  • Sherman, Sonya, Anna, and Trimel – In one day, four interns received phone calls in the span of five minutes. All four got job offers to help open Eataly, the new Italian marketplace from Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.
  • Veronica and Chris interviewed at Brickman, a national landscape company. Veronica and Chris both interviewed on-the-spot with two pairs of managers, and both received job offers. The HR manager at Brickman said to me on the phone, “We were really impressed with both Veronica and Chris, and I think this is going to be the start of a productive and sustainable relationship between Brickman and Growing Home.”
  • Sabrina received a job offer for a full-time food-prep position at an eco-friendly child care center called the Little Green Tree House.  It starts at $10/hour with paid sick days and vacation time. This is probably the best possible position for Sabrina, who has always said she wants to work in childcare (and did in the past with Illinois Action for Children).The position will also utilize her experience from Growing Home, as the child care facility has a rooftop garden and a menu focused on organic, healthy food.
  • Simone interviewed for a full time position at Pret A Manger downtown. She worked a few hours to try out, and they hired her on the spot!
  • Lashaun interviewed for a position with Sodexo at Northwestern University. She intended to interview for a dishwasher position, but when Lashaun went back for a second interview, they surprised her with a cook position in one of the dining halls on campus! The manager later told Lashaun that of the 406 candidates he interviewed for the cook job, she had the best resume because she had the confidence to talk about what she knows how to do. This is the first job Lashuan has ever had with health insurance, paid sick days, and paid vacation.
  • Jimmy received a job offer to start as a full-time prep cook at CJK Foods. After his 90-day probationary period, he’ll be up for a raise to potentially $11/hour. (Read more about Jimmy here). Jimmy’s first job as a cook was in 1994 at Yellowstone National Park.  He’s been cooking professionally, off and on, since then. This job at CJK represents a return to the industry he loves and a step up in quality of food. Jimmy has always been clear about what he’s fighting for, what’s important, why you’ve gotta push for the things and people you love.  And he often used that word, love, to describe how he felt about coming to work at Growing Home.
  • Kiara got a full-time position at Potbelly Sandwich Works  in back-to-back interviews.  Before Growing Home, Kiara had no job experience, no resume or cover letter, no plan for childcare, no permanent job prospects, but a great attitude! After eight weeks at Growing Home, Kiara now has a work history, a resume she made personally, a real child care plan with a 24/7 provider, a real, full-time job, and an even better attitude!

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