Faith Thomas and Rev. D.L. Wilson, Pastor BTH of Trueway Missionary Baptist Church
Hospitality Boot Camp is designed to help people learn skills to work in the hotel industry.
By Brian W. CarterSentinel Staff Writer
The economy is in bad shape nowadays and that means salary cuts, layoffs and unemployment for a lot of people. The Hospitality Boot camp, launched by Diversity Task Force (DTF), is continuing to help people get back on their feet.
The DTF was formed when the workers union UNITE HERE Local 11, human resources, personnel and Black mentors within the hotel industry, as well as community groups and local clergy, came together to address the lack of diversity in contract negotiations with management.
This assembly of men and women came up with the idea of a boot camp in 2004. The boot camp is designed to inform participants about the hotel/hospitality industry, entry-level jobs, career advancement with the hotel industry as well as principles of guest service and mentoring.
"The boot camp...it took four years to put together," said Rev. D.L. Wilson, Pastor BTH, "I started working on it in October 2005."
Wilson has been a chef for the past 31 and worked 27 of those years at the Century Plaza. He is now pastor of True Way Missionary Baptist Church. He and the DTF are lending their hands to communities in need of good jobs and income.
"It's a 5-day, 8-hour boot camp," said Wilson, "and we take them through a very rigorous training and not anyone can get into the boot camp. We interviewed over 100 people and we only had slots for 25 people."
Faith Thomas knows what it's like to fall on hard times and experienced being homeless for a while. "Well I was working, I lived in Compton," said Thomas. "I lost my job and apartment."
Thomas was one of many down-and-out participants that obtained a slot in the boot camp program. She succeeded in completing the program and is now able to take care of her children and herself.
"I have a job...in this economy right now, at this time it was hard," said Thomas. "So I was able to, through them, the diversity boot camp, get hired at a nice hotel, nice benefits, nice pay...everything."
As a result of entering the boot camp program, Thomas is on her way to being fully independent again. Thomas is currently staying at a mission in San Pedro but is in the process of changing her residence.
"At the moment, I'm currently working on getting me an apartment," said Thomas, "that I can afford and my kids are happy, I'm happy, looking forward to the job."
Wilson explained that the purpose of the boot camp is to help participants have an opportunity to change their situations. "Once you get your foot in the hospitality industry, the sky's the limit," said Wilson. "So it's a great opportunity to move up to general manager...we have general managers that started off as bar boys."
Thomas stressed to those who may be in her situation, "We all should be strong as women...mothers, don't let a situation bring you down."