Yesterday morning a who’s who of political leaders met at the Central Baptist Church on Wilmington’s hardscrabble East-Side to celebrate the awarding of an $18 million, three-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture to help Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), recipients prepare for jobs.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Thomas Carper, U.S. Congressman John Carney, and Delaware Department of Health and Social Service Sec. Rita Landgraf were just a few of the dignitaries who spoke about Delaware being a model for cooperation and partnerships.
And although everyone talked about the partnerships needed to pull the grant together, the star of the day was undoubtedly Rev. T.S. Keeling whose tenacity and vision for the East Side was in a lot of ways the driving force behind the scenes.
Speaker after speaker were effusive in their praise of Rev. Keeling for his ability to envision a future for the East-Side where violence is replaced by hope and unemployment replaced by construction jobs. The construction jobs he envisions are one of four tracks the grant will embrace to get people back to work.
The four tracks are:
Construction trades focused primarily on training local labor in a pre-apprenticeship format to rehabilitate old or abandoned homes on the East Side,
Culinary Arts training taught by The Food Bank of Delaware,
Manufacturing – Dover’s Kraft Foods will hire entry level production workers whom complete a certified production technician program with Delaware Technical & Community College, and
Broad-based Job Placement – The Delaware Department of Labor, Division of Employment and Training will work with SNAP recipients and provide intensive case management services.
The USDA Grant, billed as an innovative approach, will serve about 1,700 Delawareans a year for three years, Sec. Landgraf said.