Rachelle has always been devoted to her family. She and her husband married right after high school and started a family. She stayed at home while he worked to support their family of seven. She always wanted to go back to school or find a career of her own, but life had a way of always throwing curveballs.
“I pressed pause on my life to be there for my kids,” Rachelle explained. Childcare was often an expensive barrier to going back to work.
With rising rents and imperfect credit, Rachelle and her family were unable to find a place to live earlier this year. They found themselves seeking help at a local homeless shelter. At the shelter, she learned about the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program and almost didn’t enroll.
“I’ve never finished what I started before. I’ve always given up on myself when things got tough,” explained Rachelle. “This time it’s different. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, to depend on government programs like food stamps or pray that overtime is always available.”
Rachelle spent 16 weeks in the Darden Foundation Community Kitchen soaking up the knowledge she would need for a career in food service. Her curiosity about different equipment and techniques pushed her to learn as much as she could. Life skills lessons in the classroom taught Rachelle important communication, financial literacy, interviewing and resume skills. She also built her confidence by tackling different assignments, working as part of a team and reflecting on the future.
“Everything is falling into place,” she said at graduation.
Rachelle has already accomplished her short-term goal of finding a job to put her newfound skills to work at an assisted living facility. Her long-term goal is to have her own catering company.
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