We live in a complicated world full of stress, lists, hectic days, with little time to delight in the beauty and people around us. Last Friday, we were able to pause and celebrate our Culinary and Distribution Training Program students at their graduation. It was such a special day for not only the students but for their families and friends.
From our community partners to our business partners, Board members, and Second Harvest staff we all rejoiced together as we witnessed the beautiful smiling faces of each graduating student. Students from class 17, 18 and 19 all came together once again to celebrate their accomplishment.
Before the graduation, students gathered in the classroom to receive their chef coats and prepare for the graduation. It was such a delight to see how the students all welcomed each other and reminisced of their time in the classroom and kitchen. As one of the student commented, “returning to Second Harvest is like returning home. Second Harvest will always be my family.” There were many hugs, tears of joy and excitement. Indescribable joy filled the room.
We had Kenneth Neal, class 3 graduate, return to share his testimony. He spoke of his experiences, milestones, and journey since graduating from the program.
After working at Isleworth Country Club Kenneth’s catering business grew tremendously.
Recently, he got the opportunity to cater an out of state event. He was flown to Atlanta, put up in a mansion and paid a good sum of money. We are so very proud of Kenneth’s accomplishments and know he will continue to grow and prosper.
Our commencement speaker was one of our very own hunger heroes, Ed Colleran, Executive Chef at City Walk Universal Orlando. Chef Ed shared his powerful and inspiring story of how he worked his way up the kitchen rank. Ed Colleran started as a steward at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston when he was only a teenager.
He spoke on the payoffs of passion, hard work, and perseverance in helping us reach our goals. Chef Ed knows and understands the struggles of growing up in the inner city with limited resources. Everyone in the room was motivated and touched by Chef Ed’s commitment to help others be successful.
In the mist of our hectic world, it was so great to soak and savor the time with our students. We are all so proud of every one of our students and wish them all the very best as they pursue their careers in culinary.
Life Skills Education Manager