Doscher is catering director of New Course Restaurant and Catering, which hires the homeless and unemployed and trains them for food services jobs. Its restaurant is located at 500 Third St. NW, near Judiciary Square.
What kind of success has the program had since it started in 1991?
Our goal has always been to get people into living-wage jobs. We're not satisfied or interested with having people work at McDonald's. That kind of defeats the purpose. We'd like to get people placed with hotels and bigger restaurants. Up until about three years ago, we were graduating 85 percent of our employees and getting them into jobs. Over the last few years, partially thanks to the economy, that's fallen to about 50 percent.
How do you select participants in the first place?
We do an outreach to various social service agencies in the District, Maryland and Virginia, although the vast majority of our people come from D.C. We also deal with a lot of parole offices and halfway houses that are familiar with our program.
What has been your approach to leading New Course?
Coming to this, my goal was to run a business, a successful business, and to make us self-sufficient and self-sustaining, and we've pretty much been able to do that. The profits from the catering have really kept us going.
What do you like about your work?
I enjoy the challenge of running a business and particularly one that gives back to the community. It's always gratifying to see people succeed and have people come back after they've been working for a few years and seeing how they've changed their lives. Not being a social worker, I never approached this from the standpoint of saving the world. I think if you did, you'd drive yourself crazy. You just work with people one on one and hope to make changes in their lives.
- Alan Blinder