IRC and ARAMARK: a National Parks Partnership
Big Meadows Lodge at milepost 51 on Virginia’s Skyline Drive offers beautiful views, hiking, and home-style meals for travelers and tourists. It has also become central to the lives of a handful of refugees in our area. Since the fall of 2010, the IRC in Charlottesville has partnered with ARAMARK, the Shenandoah National Park concessionaire, to provide employment for refugee clients and a source of hard-working housekeepers and restaurant workers for the lodge.
Currently, four IRC clients live on the campus of Big Meadows in employee dorms. After a full five-day work week, they receive transportation back to their family homes in Charlottesville through a special arrangement with JAUNT, the regional public transportation system.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says IRC Employment Specialist Jan Tobias. “ARAMARK is delighted with the work ethic of the refugee employees, and IRC is able to quickly place workers in jobs that pay well.”
Tobias and IRC Employment Coordinator Courtney Cook hope the partnership will be seen as a model for other partnerships between IRC offices and ARAMARK, which operates 20 park concessions in 10 states. In fact, they were recently contacted by a concessions manager at Denali National Park in Alaska, seeking clients to work there!
Pictured above: Cook (left), Tobias (right), and IRC Employment Specialist Nemanja Cetic (center)