GO Celebrates Cycle 15 Program Graduates!

Staff and students applaud Kitchen Ready graduate Lisa Simpson at the Cycle 15 graduation dinner in Southside Kitchen on August 24, 2017. 


Last week, GO inducted 10 new members into the ranks of Green Opportunities’ training program alumni. Community members, family, staff and partners gathered for a celebratory meal in Southside Kitchen on Thursday, August 24 to recognize the accomplishments of our Cycle 15 students. Six students successfully completed the 15 week Kitchen Ready program, while four completed the Southside Construction training program.


Martell Zander became the first student to complete the extended nine-month construction program, which offers students the chance to gain additional skills, work experiences, and leadership opportunities before heading out into the workforce. He also maintained perfect attendance this cycle. Southside Construction graduated three women alongside Martell: Sara Bollo, Ziporah Holloway, and Allison Prince. Allison was selected as the student speaker to represent her class at Thursday’s graduation ceremony.


Southside Consruction graduates Sara Bollo (left) and Allison Prince.


“The staff here at Green Opportunities have been extremely supportive of my decisions by helping me set goals and motivating me to accomplish those goals. My experience has meant a great deal to me. Looking back on my fixed mindset when I first started, and now looking at how this program helped me to shift into a growth mindset, it is truly life changing, ” Allison shared. Now that she has completed the Southside Construction program, Allison is interested in furthering her Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) education and possibly becoming an OSHA job site inspector.


Many of GO’s students (including Allison) are parents who must balance the demands of our full-time training program with their care-giving responsibilities. Graduate Danika Davidson actually gave birth to a baby boy the week before graduation, but was back in the classroom within 48 hours of his birth because she was determined to graduate on time. Danika scored a cumulative 97% on her Tier 1 and Tier 2 culinary exams, which earned her a job offer from Southside Kitchen Catering. Cycle 15 graduate Kim Brown decided to enroll in GO’s culinary training program after being encouraged by her own daughter Kotero, who graduated from Kitchen Ready Cycle 14 last April.


Cycle 15 graduate Danika Davidson (left) poses for a picture with her family and Southside Kitchen catering employee Tashema Brown (center).


While graduate Ginger Holloway had a job before coming to GO, she’s wasn’t happy. Looking back on her time in the Kitchen Ready program, Ginger shared, “I am happy I have accomplished something that I enjoy doing”. In fact, she enjoyed her time in the kitchen so much that she is now planning to enroll at A-B Tech to study hospitality management and baking and pastry arts.


Kitchen Ready graduate Ginger Holloway (left) receives a graduate gift of a professional knife kit from Aisha Adams, GO’s Director of Training & Support.


Graduate Michael Westbrooks was “down on his luck” and homeless when he enrolled in the training program back in May. Despite these barriers, he proved himself to be a stand-out trainee and was able to secure a part-time job at West Asheville’s Jargon restaurant while still enrolled in the training program. Asked what he had gained from his time in Kitchen Ready, Michael reflected, “This program has lifted my self esteem toward fulfilling my goals. The most important thing I have learned during my time with GO is that I am somebody and to never give up. I can do anything that I set my mind to do… just stay focused and move forward.”


Michael Westbrooks (left) and Gene Ettison, Executive Chef Instructor of the Kitchen Ready program.


This cycle, GO also began offering stand-alone training programs to members of the community at large, including a Foundations of Business entrepreneurship class offered in partnership with Mountain BizWorks and Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation, and the OSHA-10 Hour Construction Safety course. At Thursday’s ceremony, Aisha Adams, GO’s Director of Training and Support, recognized the seven people who completed a short-term training program offered by GO this summer.


Foundations of Business students and class instructors. From left, Delia Landing, Instructor Jodi Rhoden of Birdseye Business Planning, Angela Vance, Kelvin Smith, Olympia Garrett, Isa Whitaker, and Dr. Joseph Fox, business planning lab coach. 


One of those students was Delia Landing, who completed her business plan for Delia’s Tea Time during the Foundations of Business course and was subsequently awarded matching funds for her business through the IDA program at Eagle Market Streets. Delia’s Tea Time will be vending at Asheville’s 2017 Goombay Festival on September 8th and 9th.


GO’s next training cycle will begin in October. Orientation sessions for our fall training programs will be held at the Arthur R. Edington Center on Thursday, September 7 at 12:00 and 6:00 pm. To reserve a seat in the orientation session, contact Sheneika Smith at or (828) 398-4158 ext. 107.



Congratulations to GO’s Cycle 15 Graduates!


Kitchen Ready: Joshua Black, Kimberly Brown, Danika Davidson, Ginger Holloway, and Michael Westbrooks


Southside Construction: Sara Bollo, Ziporah Holloway, Allison Prince, and Martell Zander


You can read essays written by all of our Cycle 15 graduates in our graduation program.