Friday, May 4, 2012

Why do we wear jeans on Friday?

LRA Staffers sport their denim on Fridays
for Louisiana ProStart!
Last year, the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation was brainstorming ideas to engage the staff of the Association in its mission to raise awareness of the Louisiana ProStart program. From that session emerged the “Denim and Dollars” initiative. For a $25 contribution to the LRAEF, staff members were able to wear jeans to work on the last Friday of each month.

ProStart is a two-year, dynamic, culinary arts and restaurant management curriculum administered by the LRAEF in nearly 50 high schools statewide and more than 1,300 participating.

“The response was great,” said Pam St. Pierre, VP of Member Services. “We raised nearly $800 and it gave the staff an opportunity to dress casually one day a month.”

To keep the momentum going in 2012, the discussion of whether to continue the initiative was raised in a senior management meeting and the feedback was a resounding ‘YES!’

“Everyone was in agreement that it was a worthwhile effort for our ProStart students,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “I suggested raising the amount and allowing our staff to wear jeans every Friday.”

From that statement, discussion ensued about the cost for the luxury of wearing jeans. A consensus among the team was reached and the amount increased to $50 and the contributions nearly doubled to $1,500.

“Every Friday I look forward to wearing jean to work because it puts me in a relaxed, ‘weekend is near’ mode,” said Erica Papillion, Social Media Director. “It’s double the advantage because I know my contribution is going to such a worthy cause like ProStart!”

These funds help provide ProStart classes small ware supplies and product to practice their skills. It also benefits the ProStart teachers as funding may also be used for the Summer and Winter ProStart Teachers Institute—an intensive week’s worth of hands-on instructions from industry professionals, field trips and the ServSafe, eight hour food safety and sanitation course.

“If I have a meeting on Friday, I still wear my jeans, but just add a blazer,” said Wendy Waren, VP of Communications. “It allows me the chance to tell business associates how awesome ProStart is and how proud I am to work for the restaurant industry in Louisiana.” 

The LRA received a donation of fruit trees from the New Orleans Food and Farm Network for ProStart programs in the Southeast Region. After the schools picked up their trees, which were half of the donation, there were about 25 left over.

“We decided to offer the fruit trees to the LRA Staff at a significantly reduced price of $15,” said James Blanchard, ProStart Coordinator. “The staff jumped at the opportunity and we raised $300 for ProStart.”

If you would like to make a contribution to this exciting program designed to attract young people to rewarding careers in Louisiana restaurant and hospitality industry, please call Alice Glenn, LRAEF Executive Director today at (504) 454-2277. Or you can mail your contribution to: LRAEF, 2700 N. Arnoult Rd., Metairie, LA 70002.

Feeling inspired? We sure are.

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