As I reflect on the many blessings I have received during 2013, one immediately comes to mind. This year I started working for Second Harvest Food Bank as the Life Skills Education Manager for the Culinary Training Program. I can truly say that I feel blessed to be able to work with students who are going through hard times and are in need of a second chance. As the Life Skills Education Manager, I have a front row seat to see lives being transformed.
Last week my husband and I went to the Marriott Falls Bar and Grill, and to my delight, one of the first culinary training program graduates, Garfield Lettman, was working that day. As soon as Garfield learned that I was in the restaurant, he came out to greet me. When I saw him in his chef uniform, my heart skipped a beat. I felt like a proud mother who had just seen her son come back from war. Words cannot describe how excited and proud I was to see Garfield.
During Garfield’s initial interview for the Culinary Training Program, what first caught my eye was his cheerful attitude and bright smile. He told me about his love and passion for food, and his dream of owning an exclusive restaurant – where all the items on the menu were his own creation. Garfield moved to Orlando from Jamaica in 2011 with the hope of creating a better future for his wife and daughters. However, with little education and lack of experience, he was not able to find employment. When Garfield heard about the Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, he quickly submitted his application, and was later accepted. While in the program, Garfield impressed both the Executive Chef and Chef Instructor with his delicious sweet potato soup and Jamaican dishes.
Upon graduation, Garfield received not one, but multiple job offers! With his positive, happy and willing attitude, I knew Garfield would succeed in whatever place he worked. Garfield is well on the way to fulfilling his dream, and I feel blessed in knowing that the Culinary Training Program played a part in his journey.
Idalia Nunez, MBA
Life Skills Education Manager