NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Just across the street from the
site where thousands of trapped New Orleans residents rode out Hurricane
Katrina, then begged for rescue in 2005, another type of rescue continues.
A New Orleans-based food company is helping to champion the rescue of the
city's countless homeless teens and rebuild the city's restaurant business.
"Some of these kids were abandoned or sent to the streets to sell
drugs," explained Jim Pearse, General Manager of Zatarain's. "We are
helping them to start over with social skills, education and job training
to become part of a much needed workforce in New Orleans restaurants."
Zatarain's has donated a portion of its nationwide sales to restaurants to
help support the project. Recently, the company also cooked up more than 40
gallons of jambalaya and sold it to nearby office workers for a donation to
Zatarain's is as much a part of New Orleans as jazz and jambalaya. The
company has adopted Covenant House. The organization currently houses and
trains about 40 homeless teens and 10 of their children.
One job-training program is Covenant Cafe where the teens learn skills
to work in the foodservice industry. Located across the street for the
Superdome, teens operate the cafe as part of a 10-week program that
includes job placement. About half of Covenant Cafe graduates are still
working six months later.
"Some of New Orleans's greatest restaurants are struggling to find
employees. With limited housing and only half of the city's pre-Katrina
residents returning, cafe graduates have a good chance of getting jobs,"
said Dudley Passman Zatarain's Director of Foodservice Sales.
18-year old Wilbert Gerard is determined to be the first in his family
to ever earn a GED. "If it weren't for Covenant House, I'd end up like my
father, in and out of jail," Wilbert said. "Thank God, I've got a chance."
Wilbert expects to pass his GED exam, go to a community college and
eventually open his own business.
19-year old Cecile Kass has four children. "Without Covenant House, I
would have been homeless and would've lost my children," Kass said.
Covenant House operates its programs on a $4.7 million budget with
little financial support from the city and limited federal funding through