Finding jobs, building confidence goal of MCFI's vocational training program

The work day for James McFadden starts early, but it's a fulfilling job he can't wait to start each day.

\"The first kid we pick up is at 10 til 6,\" he said.

McFadden found out the hard way that finding a job is not easy. Three years ago, health issues cost the veteran his job, he ended up homeless and no one would hire him. But the Milwaukee Center for Independence, or MCFI, re-started his drive to succeed.

\"They hired me on in the training program, at first, in the kitchen,\" he recalled.

That eventually led to full-time work transporting children with complex medical needs to get care at MCFI. McFadden takes care of each child like they're one of his own.

\"I know what they're going through,\" he said. \"I get emotional too, but it touches your heart. I know it helps me and I know it'll help them.\"

The team at MCFI is on a mission to give more people like McFadden a chance to be productive citizens. Its expanding its vocational jobs training program. Areas include culinary, custodial, warehouse and assembly and packaging.

\"It will focus on people who don't necessarily qualify for traditional funding streams, but have a passion for those fields,\" said Heidi Chada, vice president of MCFI's Nutrition and Wellness Services. \"So we can help them get to the point of getting serve-safe certification, getting their resumes together and help connecting them with jobs in the end.\"

A $50,000 grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is funding MCFI's expanded outreach efforts. Doing so is part of the Foundation's mission to provide economic opportunity for everyone.

\"It's caring for those who others don't always care about,\" said Janel Hines, with the Foundation. \"It's giving them opportunities, training, skills, providing wrap around services to make them stronger, make their families stronger and our community stronger.\"

\"I've gotten back to where I've got my own place. I'm going on a great vacation this year,\" continued McFadden. \"Twelve days in Las Vegas. I get to see my grandkids and kids again.\"

Through it all, McFadden has gained some new family on his climb back to the top. It's a journey, he said, saved his life.

You can learn more about services offered at the Milwaukee Center for Independence by visiting the website.

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