New REfire Program Grads Ready to Take Their Place in the Community

Jul 29, 2019

The Big Bend Homeless Coalition's REfire culinary training program graduated its latest class the evening of Friday, July 26. If history is any indicator, the odds are good these new grads will quickly find jobs in their field.

The latest REfire grads enjoyed a meal with their families before the ceremony.
Credit Tom Flanigan

Program Director Rebecca Kelly-Manders said the idea is to give felons who have served their sentences a fresh start. The program has had big success since it began a few years ago.

"If you have 18 people out of 22 graduates that are out there working within the first 90 days of their graduation, that's huge!"

Leticia Berry graduated from the Refire program two years ago. She says she's been constantly busy and employed since then.

"I've been from Madison Social to HeadStart, doing some catering around the community to speaking around the community and involvement in the 32304 cleanup."

This graduation had one of its biggest cheerleaders, Leon County Judge Layne Smith as its featured speaker.

"Because we're all better off if people are at work, supporting their family and involved in the community," he remarked.

The REfire training takes place in a commercial grade kitchen at the Hope Community.