Preparing for Change at the Adult Academy

February 3, 2017 | Adult

The wall is coming down at the Adult Academy, and our clients are saying goodbye.

At our 20th Anniversary Gala, thanks to the generosity of our donors, we raised $50,000 to support the Life Skills program at VIA’s Adult Academy. The project includes a renovation of the kitchen at our Remson Court location. The renovation will provide learning opportunities in a real life setting, with apartment grade appliances and expanded cooking surfaces.

This weekend is demolition time, and the renovation is getting underway.

Change can be tough on anyone, but for our adult clients, it’s especially important to have plenty of time to anticipate something new, to get ready for it, and to allow it to sink in. And it’s one of VIA’s primary missions to help our students and clients develop the skills to confront change in new and old situations.

So all day on Friday we’ve been saying our goodbyes. Staff and clients have been writing messages on the wall, and preparing for Monday when the kitchen will look a whole lot different.

The boys say goodbye.

The boys say goodbye.

“It’s a shock to anybody to see that kind of change,” says Adult Academy Director Mark Seymour. “We wanted to be certain that everyone will be part of the process and no one will be surprised or shocked on Monday morning.”

The new kitchen will be a major addition to life skills training at the Academy. “Our current kitchen has been used for a lot of learning,” says Mark. “But the new one will have more room, better gear, and room for a stove. Our clients will be able to have the same kind of experience there that they have at home.”

We've got a bunch of graffiti artists in this program.

We’ve got a bunch of graffiti artists in this program.

The donors at the VIA Gala have provided generous funding for important physical upgrade projects before. The 2015 Gala funded the renovation of the gym at the James C. Hormel School. That newer, more colorful, more fun and flexible space has been a great improvement for our students’ physical education.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this kind of capital project without the generosity of our donors,” says Clay Braswell, VIA’s Director of Development. “Funding for Adult Services has been a particular challenge, the fact that our donors engage with projects like this brings real value to our families.”

One thing about the kitchen upgrade will not be missed. The reliable George Forman Grill has gotten a lot of use over the years, but now, with a new stove on the way, it’s days are numbered. “We’re going to be retiring George when the new stove gets here,” says Mark. “Maybe we’ll have another ceremony.”