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  • Writer's pictureNancy Griffin

Goodwin Living Partners with Nonprofit Vocational Program Kitchen of Purpose

Updated: May 17, 2023

Interns matriculate into full-time employees with tiered job system that provides training and incentives to move up the career ladder.

Goodwin Living, a not-for-profit, faith-based senior living and health care services organization, is partnering with Kitchen of Purpose, a local nonprofit organization generating culinary students. With self-operated dining programs and 45 dining team members serving 1,000 meals a day at each of its two owned and operated Life Plan Communities—Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads in Falls Church, VA, and Goodwin House Alexandria in Alexandria, VA—Goodwin Living is always working on its recruitment and career path programs.


“Kitchen of Purpose gives back to economically challenged people in the area. Through our foundation, we fund the salaries of these interns and provide Hands-On training and mentorship which has resulted in the successful matriculation to hiring three interns to full-time positions, which were very proud of,” said Goodwin Living Culinary Innovation and Development Chef Brian Patterson. “At Goodwin living we provide a smooth transition from their classroom into the professional challenges and rewards that are unique to the culinary arts and senior living.


Patterson first reached out to what was then called La Cocina VA, which was helping underserved individuals in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area obtain higher-skilled, better-paying jobs and improve their interpersonal and language skills. Its Bilingual Culinary Training Program was preparing first generation Latina American women for meaningful careers in the food industry through job training, culinary certification, and job placement services.


“It fit so well with us to reach out to them and offer up internship positions here for their culinary students. It was a chance for us to teach the emerging workforce about career diversity and perhaps unexpected job opportunities within senior living and healthcare.”


We have developed a tiered job system—cook one, cook two, and cook three, that allows us to provide incentive to move up the career ladder. We've pushed the rungs a little closer together on the ladder so that those are attainable. And that has helped a lot with retention,” added Patterson. “We also put a premium on social engagement and community outreach as part of our mission. This is part of our bigger effort to reach out to vocational programs in the area. We want to do our part to support, honor, and uplift as many as possible and empower others to do the same.”


“Kitchen of Purpose is very intentional about wanting to place interns where they will hopefully matriculate into a position,” Patterson said. “It's not just a stage and a kitchen … they do some background work to pair up the intern with the right opportunity that hopefully will stick.”


As part of the Kitchen of Purpose Food Assistance Program, students in the culinary training program cook meals that are donated daily to low-income families and individuals in the area. “There's a consistency in the sense of purpose between Goodwin Living and Kitchen of Purpose, the idea of serving a greater good, more than just putting out good food for paying customers. We have a mission that’s altruistic, that has a greater purpose than just slinging food,” Patterson explained. “These interns are coming from a situation where they're exposed to that sensibility of cooking for a greater purpose, and we provide a continuation of that mentality.”


Goodwin Living is working to streamline the process from the first interview to the first day of work, which he admits is arduous because of the careful vetting process. But Kitchen of Purpose performs a significant part of the background check and does a lot of due diligence required ahead of time—whether it’s vaccinations for COVID or criminal background checks, etc.


Patterson concluded that he believes one of the things that distinguishes Goodwin Living as a destination place to work is its expanding diversity and inclusivity. “I think that is the way of the future. You hear about the diversity, the different ethnicities represented, and we have come to him to very deliberately and intentionally embrace that diversity and inclusivity, so people feel very at ease and at home."

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