Phoenix Rescue Mission cooks up jobs for unemployed moms

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Rescue Mission is changing the lives of unemployed mothers “one cookie at a time.”

The non-profit now have catering and cookie-making programs to help unemployed women develop new skills to give them a better chance of success in the workforce.

Michelle Rader said she was addicted to drugs several years ago, but Phoenix Rescue Mission changed that.

Her eight-year-old son, Mason Rader, confirmed his mom’s struggle with addiction.

“She was on drugs and she ended up leaving me because she was so bad. I was at a different school and they took me from there,” Mason said. “She freaked out, so then she had to come here to get me back.”

For the past couple years, Mason has been able to live with his mom at the mission’s Changing Lives Center in Phoenix.

Since she joined the program, Michelle Rader has worked her way up from cook to the paid position as manager of the catering business. Mission Possible Catering started in January.

“It’s definitely challenging, and it’s exciting and it’s fun. It’s something I’ve never done. I’ve never worked in a kitchen before I came here ever. And now I’m like running this catering thing,” Michelle Rader said. “I’ve done the making of the standardized recipes on my own. I’m placing orders, I’m doing invoices for customers, and making sure everything goes smoothly.”

Docie Schlautmann manages the mission’s other business, Mission Possible Cookies. She likes it so much, she’s sticking around a little longer after she graduates from the program, as a paid employee.

The road to recovery from alcoholism was difficult for Schlautmann. This is her second time at the mission.

“I ended up homeless and on the streets again. But one of the benefits of being an alumni is you can always come back, so I asked them if I could come back, because I had stumbled and fallen. By the grace of God, they allowed me to come back in,” she said.

Schlautmann just celebrated two years of sobriety.

After Schlautmann and Rader leave the mission, they plan to find well-paying jobs to support their families.

“We don’t want our graduates to graduate our program, and then go flip burgers because that’s not a sustainable wage. And many of the women here have children, and they really can’t support their families on a minimum wage job, so we’re teaching them to go in at more of a manager level at a restaurant,” said Kathy Cocca, executive project manager.