Light House Bistro Awarded a $75,000 MD Department of Labor Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund Grant

The Light House Bistro Workforce Development Program, a restaurant and catering social enterprise created by The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center, has been awarded a $75,000 Maryland Department of Labor Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund (OWIF) grant. This much needed support will provide individuals who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic with job training and work opportunities at Light House Bistro. Grant funds will directly empower these individuals with the skills they need to support themselves and their families, all while connecting them seamlessly to the wraparound support, mental health care, and other support services that are vital to their recovery.

For over 30 years, The Light House’s overarching goal has been to make homelessness brief and rare in central Maryland. The Light House meets the needs not only of homeless individuals and families living in their shelter, but also of those in poverty, coming out of incarceration, living in addiction treatment facilities and recovery centers, and at other shelters in the area. Over the past decade, The Light House has successfully created a continuum of employment programs to promote self-sufficiency and independence. One of these workforce development programs is Light House Bistro, which provides training and work opportunities in a supportive environment.

“Maryland Department of Labor is thrilled to support Light House Bistro’s continued efforts to empower and uplift Marylanders through our Opioid Workforce Innovation Fund,” said Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson. “Through this funding, individuals impacted by the opioid crisis will receive in-demand training and develop the skills necessary to re-enter our state’s workforce, further supporting their recovery.”

“Light House programs have been increasingly serving people who have been directly and indirectly impacted by the opioid crisis,” stated Beth Rocca, Director of Light House Bistro Social Enterprises. “In particular, our Light House Bistro Workforce Development Program has been training and placing into permanent hire many of those struggling because of this epidemic. In fact, 82% of people in our workforce programs have been impacted by the opioid crisis, and 90% are also receiving treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders. This OWIF funding will give The Light House and Light House Bistro the opportunity to provide the next level of care and support these individuals need. Since the grant was awarded in October, 35 individuals have been beneficiaries of the funds. Each and every one of them receives career service advising from day one and establishes their career goal plan and an exit plan for permanent employment. As part of the program, they also receive work related certifications to bolster their résumés for hiring partners.”

This funding from the OWIF grant has enabled The Light House to establish a new partnership with Project Chesapeake, which provides integrated services for community members impacted by the opioid crisis. Project Chesapeake provides a broad range of mental health services to individuals seeking alcohol/drug abuse and/or mental health counseling services with treatment opportunities that result in long-term recovery and success. A licensed social worker from the Project Chesapeake staff now attends regular meetings at Light House Bistro to educate Light House Bistro staff about behavioral health services and works individually with Light House Bistro staff members to develop treatment service plans and monitor their progress. A Project Chesapeake social worker is also available to Light House Bistro staff for individual case management at Light House Bistro.

Jeremy is a great example of how this new partnership between Project Chesapeake and The Light House can pave the path to recovery and independence for vulnerable community members. Jeremy is an employee at Light House Bistro who struggled with addiction for 23 years. Last year, he made the decision to get clean and became a client of Project Chesapeake, where he was able to get the support he needed for both his addiction and mental health. He then came to Light House Bistro to fill out an application and start training and working as a line cook. He feels confident in his stability at Light House Bistro and is grateful to have the opportunity to heal and to grow while earning a living wage and receiving health benefits. He has been promoted to PM Sous Chef and just recently had the opportunity to run a “pop up” dinner at Light House Bistro on his own. He planned, created, and executed a five-course meal for 40 people, which was a great success! Jeremy’s story is a testament to how OWIF funding of partnerships between supportive workforce development programs such as Light House Bistro and mental health service providers like Project Chesapeake can rebuild lives of those struggling with addiction.