By Jenifer West
H.O.S.T. House Kitchen
The sound of sledgehammers breaking up drywall was music to our ears at H.O.S.T. House last Thursday morning, as demolition began in preparation for the new commercial kitchen.
Retired contractor Bill Goss and contractor Steve Howell, of Howell Construction, met at the site to confer on the plans, after which Goss, assisted by those who currently live at H.O.S.T. House, began the demolition phase of the project. Both professionals are donating their time and expertise.
The Restart students were called back early from their volunteer work at the Modesto Love Center, the emergency food pantry run by Victory life Center. They arrived wearing black T-shirts with “H.O.S.T. House” printed on the back. After a quick lunch, they were put to work on the project.
Construction will involve removing part or all of a couple of walls, along with opening a pass-through window in another. The finished kitchen will boast a walk-in refrigerator, among other amenities.
The concept of work is a central theme in the Restart program at H.O.S.T. House, currently being taught by Geni Boyer, Ph.D. At one time, Boyer travelled extensively, teaching the principals of the program to C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies.
Her focus now is on working with those who are incarcerated or homeless. The Restart program she has created has been the driving force in the success of about 70 percent of the students who have completed the program at H.O.S.T. House. The program will be offered at Naomi’s House as well, as soon as construction of the facility is complete. In the meantime, women are taking advantage of the program being offered at H.O.S.T.
Participants in the Restart program first do volunteer work in the community, while preparing for success in life. Students who graduate the program get a job, obtain further education, join the military or start their own businesses.
Any who did not receive their high school diplomas will have passed their General Educational Development test (GED).
Boyer, whose LinkedIn profile indicates she received her Doctor of Philosophy in Organization Behavior and Change Process from American International College in Springfield, MA, is a captivating teacher who regularly creates real-world analogies for the concepts she presents.
A lesson on similarities and differences, for example, featured remote-control cars. Another, on self-control, featured a sieve and a colander, each in its own bowl. That lesson was a bit on the messy side, as it also involved water. The inspiration for it, she told the group after class, came while she was unloading her dishwasher.
Boyer also requires out-of-the-box thinking from her students, with assignments like creating a depiction of a theoretical business they are starting together using interlocking plastic disks in various colors. Pouring out the disks, Boyer advised the students that they all had to interlock, and that they were required to use all of them.
And they did, collaboratively making a piece of temporary art in the process.
The nature of the program is such that one must experience it in order to be able to teach it, and there are trainees going through the program with the current group of students. It naturally brings out the best in everyone, because it provides an opportunity to stretch and grow in a supportive and positive, yet no-nonsense environment.
The course requires participants to understand how they naturally interact with others – that’s the easy part. More challenging is the work on the areas that need improvement.
This writer will be the first to admit that it takes you right out of your comfort zone.
Everyone participates; everyone contributes. No one gets a pass. It keeps everyone on their toes. You want to be prepared to make a meaningful contribution when the eyes are inevitably all on you.
Music calls everyone together at the start of class – something upbeat and positive, such as Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” played at a volume sure to get everyone on their feet. Class starts with everyone moving around to the music – which makes most of us laugh a little self-consciously, and also breaks the ice at the start of the day.
Academic class days involve a lesson on interpersonal styles and emotional intelligence in the morning, followed in the afternoon by a hands-on activity that allows students an opportunity to gain and practice various skills needed for success in business, which will also help them in life in general.
Naomi’s House update
On Monday, March 2, a city crew got things rolling on construction of Naomi’s House, the facility that will soon offer the currently 25 homeless women in Patterson a place to stay. The crew dug a trench for the new water line, and work has been occurring on the site next door to H.O.S.T. House.
The facility must be up and running by May 31.
In the meantime, plenty of activities for the ladies are being planned, including a spa day, along with several kinds of classes, such as knitting, crocheting, cooking and others.
We’re pleased to announce that, with the money that the Northmead After School Program donated, we will soon be starting a garden. We’d like to ask the community to donate 20 to 30 containers large enough for us to plant in, such as 5-gallon buckets, or the large plastic tubs that some livestock food comes in.
Follow us on the Naomi’s House Facebook page. We’ll soon post a wish list for our garden, and hope for the community’s support with the project!
Jenifer West, formerly Patterson Irrigator editor, is working to help change lives through the Restart program, and will be leading the program at Naomi’s House, once that facility is built.