It has been said that Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida offers programs that are life-saving and life-changing. Today, more than 75 friends, family members, community leaders and supporters gathered to witness the transformative power of the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program at the graduation of Class 23, 24 and 25. To date the program has graduated 210 students with 100 percent placement in better-than-minimum-wage jobs.
There are many partners that make programs like the Culinary Training Program possible. Jodie Hardman from Bank of America reminded the audience that everyone can be a partner in a student’s success: as a donor, financially supporting the cause; a volunteer, contributing time and effort to make the end result possible; a supporter, providing encouragement and strength; and an advocate, telling others what you have experienced, witnessed and learned about Second Harvest Food Bank and its mission. As part of their commitment to support economic mobility, Bank of America presented a $30,000 donation to help continue the culinary training program.
Soline Dulcio and Frank Norwood are two freshly minted advocates, sharing how their experience in the Culinary Training Program changed their lives.
Before entering the program, Soline recalls being timid and fearful but she had a dream to help herself and her family. The kitchen proved to be a transformative place where she honed not only her knife skills, but her confidence to succeed. During mock interviews she impressed her interviewer so much that she received a job offer at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort, where she works today.
Frank came to Second Harvest after participating in The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center program. He knew this was the chance he needed at a renewed sense of purpose. As a young child, he always had a passion to cook. Frank sees a synergy in following the 12 step program and following a recipe. He says he is grateful to have skills to follow the steps for a successful dish and career.
In closing, Dr. Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College, shared remarks at the graduation as keynote speaker. He reinforced the message of today’s event as a way to merge one’s passion with one’s work by citing poet Robert Frost’s famous “Two Tramps In Mud Time.”
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Today 21 students graduated with their avocation and vocation aligned and ready for a bright future.