Preparing for Adulthood

-Ligia Braidotti, The Times

Marymound has recently started a hot dog cart to help children develop more employability skills. Grillin’ 4 Good is part of the Student Work Experience Education Program (SWEEP) drawn up to offer kids training opportunities in the kitchen, volunteering opportunities, resume preparation, training for interviews, and many other skills required by the workplace environment.

Their first day was on Aug. 8 and SWEEP leader Travis Liewicki said it was a success.

“The kids were really excited. Monday was a lot of fun. It was a different experience for them. Our kids are very eager to work and be successful,” he said.

Mardy Yager, Marymound’s senior manager of fund development, said the organization has been focusing on helping to connect their kids to the economy, giving them life skills and training so when they leave Marymound they have a foundation to enter the workforce.

“It’s just a way for our kids to gain a different kind of experience. They are working with customers, they are doing all the prep for our toppings, there’s a lot of loading, a lot of clean up and a lot of unloading,” Liewicki said.

SWEEP offers kitchen and landscaping training. Those engaged in gardening are the ones taking care of Marymound’s properties.

“They are always looking for opportunities to get some experience and some skills,” Yager added.

Grillin’ 4 Good aims to enhance employability skills. Boys and girls will be learning how to work in a fast paced environment, dealing with customers, cooking and handling money.

“It’s an easier step down from the kitchen to the hot dog cart than like a restaurant. It’s quite a shock when our kids go from here to a restaurant because it’s a much faster pace,” Liewicki said. “They are going to run the cart. Once they are established, I’m just going to drop them off and pick them up.”

Liewick commented most of the kids have gone through their kitchen program, so they’ve learned how a kitchen works and food safety. Dealing with customers is the next step for them. However, for the other kids, this will be a lot of practising and learning on the job.

Most kids leave Marymound as soon as they turn 18. Then, they are on their own and need to go out in the world to find a job and support themselves.

“They are planning for when they are no longer with Marymound. These projects help their self-esteem and their self-confidence,” Yager said.

These kinds of projects give them experience in working with the community and the public and better preparation for adulthood and independence.

The cart is located at 831 Portage Ave. and functions every week, Mon., Wed. to Fri. from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Hot dogs range from $4 to $5, and there’s also a chickpea sandwich as a vegan option. People can also hire Grillin 4’ Good for events. Those interested should contact Liewicki at 204-336-5265 or