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A national Christian magazine is recognizing a Springfield organization with an award, and thirty-thousand dollars.
VictoryTrade School, LLC, operates under the umbrella non-profit of Springfield Victory Mission, Inc. The culinary arts school has just been honored by World Magazine, winning the national 2011 Hope Award for Effective Compassion.
The award recognizes Christian charities that fight poverty. Victoria Queen, the president of Victory Trade School, says the school was one of four finalists, and it won by a public vote.
“I think it’s because we weren’t just giving something to the students. The students come and they work for everything they get. We set the expectations really high. They live up to those expectations. They’re up at four in the morning. They’re working. They’re operating the restaurants. And just the fact that we expect them to work, and earn what they get, and learn…and they do,” she said.
The culinary arts students at Victory Trade School run two restaurants: the Cook’s Kettle, where their positions range from dishwasher to manager-in-training, as well as The Branch Bistro and Catering.
The students have to go through a long-term recovery program before attending the trade school. Many of them formerly dealt with addiction to alcohol or drugs. Queen says to be part of the program, they must also continue to take faith-based classes. That’s part of the trade school’s broad approach to shaping healthier lives and a healthier community.
Some students pay a tuition fee based on a sliding scale, but the school operates largely on donations and grants.
“The vision of Victory Trade School is transform lives, impacting the community by education through social enterprise. And the social enterprises also bring in some of the money. And that is our goal: that our restaurants will become self-sufficient. Then we have a greenhouse, and we will be able to grow our own vegetables for the restaurants,” she said.
According to the trade school’s website, the culinary students aspire to leave with seven certificates that are recognized by the NRAEF, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.
Click here to read World Magazine's coverage of the award.