Graduates of Muncie hospitality training program see success

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MUNCIE, Ind. -- A new hotel in Muncie is getting recognition from around the world, all because of what's going on inside.

The Courtyard Marriott is home to the Erskine Green Training Institute. The facility is part of The ARC Indiana and it's the only one of it's kind in the world.

The center trains adults with disabilities to perform real-world jobs. Students who graduate from high school can apply for the program. They then get to select the type of program they want to study. All of it is hands on training. The students also live in the hotel during the training time. They get to have a "college" experience.

Two classes have already graduated. The center is now starting on their third session. Jimmy Grimes is a current student. He's learning how to become a restaurant host.

“I’m learning how to keep the entry way and dining room tidy, make sure that the host stand is cleaned off and make sure the tables have the appropriate amount of silverware and plates," Grimes said.

He's hoping to be hired on as an employee once he graduates. So far, five students who have graduated already have jobs. Ethan Arbogast is one of them. He is working in the hotel's laundry facility.

“I learned how to fold sheets and towels. I also learned how to make beds and clean rooms," Arbogast said.

In addition to hospitality and hosting work, students will be learning how to cook at Thr3e Wise Men, which is attached to the hotel. Students are also learning patient care and transporting patients at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.

“They get to experience independence, have a social life, but more importantly they get the job skills training they need so they can leave and be productive members of society, get gainful employment, and live a good life," instructor Brittany Bales said.

In Indiana, the unemployment rate for adults with disabilities is 80 percent. The ARC and Erskine Green Training Facility are hoping to change that number.

“It’s huge for the state of Indiana to be making a dent in the unemployment rate and giving these individuals a chance at a productive life," Bales said.

To keep the program running, a fundraiser is being held next weekend. It's hosted by The Sertoma Club of Broad Ripple. Dealing for Dreams is a casino themed event that will be held Saturday, August 6th from 7-11 p.m. at the Horizon Convention Center in Muncie.

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