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Third group of immigrants graduate from tourism training program

A third group of participants from Catholic Charities of Buffalo’s Immigration and Refugee Assistance Program graduated from the Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute during a ceremony held earlier this month at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The hospitality/tourism industry-focused training was developed collaboratively by Catholic Charities and Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. It includes classroom training, visits to local hotels and internships. Originally constructed to span 10 weeks, the program has been condensed to a eight-weeks, allowing graduates to enter the workforce even sooner.

Thirty-seven people have now completed the program, including men and women from Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Nepal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Myanmar, ranging in age from 19 to 55. A Somali father and son were among the 15 graduates of the institute’s third class who were presented certificates by the Rev. James J. Maher, president of Niagara University.

“As a Catholic and Vincentian university, we consider it our mission to work with the community and provide assistance wherever and whenever we can,” Maher said. “By providing participants with the skills they’ve obtained through this program, the foundation has been set for them to pave a sustainable career path, thereby enhancing their lives and the community in the process.”

The goal of the program is to place graduates in related jobs within 30 days of completing the program, according to Deborah T. Curtis, director of Niagara’s Center for Events and Management Development, who has led the institute and conducted the training.

Several graduates have been interviewed by local hotels, including the Hyatt, Courtyard by Marriott Buffalo, Hampton Inn and Suites and Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter, all partners of the institute.

The next institute session begins Jan. 25.

The institute is supported by grant funding from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and the Statler Foundation. The development council selected Catholic Charities to receive an Unemployed Worker Training Program award of $99,600, funded by the state Department of Labor.

Niagara’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, founded in 1968, was the first program in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in tourism and has a long history of training individuals to succeed the industry. To learn more about the institute, contact Curtis at 286-8711 or dcurtis@niagara.edu.

email: niagaranews@buffnews.com