TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The CEO of the Cherry Street Mission is turning the former Macomber Technical High School into different vocational schools. Thanks to a recently granted special use permit from Toledo City Council, Monroe Street staff can move forward in renovating the entire building into 12 vocational schools.
"Ten years ago I started carrying a list in my front pocket called 'things I hate about Cherry Street," said Dan Rogers, CEO of Cherry Street Mission.
Not because he didn't love Cherry Street Mission, but because he did and still does. Rogers started dreaming up ways to do better.
"We could help you get to a certain point where you were no longer a pimp, no longer a prostitute, no longer a drug dealer, no longer, no longer, no longer, but after a while I began realizing that the very people we had helped to wholeness were still sleeping in our beds," said Rogers.
The building, located at 1501 Monroe St., currently has two. An auto shop opened a few months ago. Monday, a call-center training class opened.
Rogers says as far as he knows, the call-center class the first in the country.
"This school is designed to help people get meaningful employment and it starts right here in this room," said Rogers.
The next big project is a kitchen and restaurant, which will function as a place where people will not only learn how to cook, but also where they can share a meal. This will take the place of meals given out of the building on Madison Ave.
"The kitchen that we're building - at peak level - will crank out 1.5 million meals annually," said Rogers.
He says everyone is invited to come pay for a meal, but those in need won't be paying with money. They'll be paying with time. People will use cards that function like debit cards, but keep track of things like going to class.
"The importance of that is not just the dignity and respect that this will return to the person who has been long access from it, but it prepares them for normal behavioral life out in the community," said Rogers.