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Bergen County Freeholder John Mitchell recently visited North Jersey Friendship House on Atlantic Street in Hackensack for an update on the non-profit organization. Friendship House helps individuals with varying abilities by providing comprehensive clinical treatment, vocational training and work opportunities to lead productive lives.
One of the newest programs is the Innovative Culinary Opportunity Network, or ICON, which provides culinary training and job placement for adults with autism and other special needs. The program is led by Chef Dave Bein and supported by a team that includes Zach Mendez, assistant trainer; Ruby Ferguson, life skills coach; and Dave Wellington, job coach. ICON, the first program of its kind in the nation, runs for 12 weeks per session and includes professional culinary training, food safety and sanitation lessons, group discussions about proper workplace etiquette, interview skills, resume writing and job placement in the culinary field.
Mitchell said he was very impressed with the ICON program and even offered to use the students to cater his next event. Mitchell also enjoyed a tour of the facility and learned more about the wide range of services.