Adult Culinary Program students work hard on both their knife skills and on themselves while they’re at FareStart. One of the important tools for self-work is a gratitude journal.
During life skills classes, students fill out a grateful sheet. The first three sections are for what they are grateful for right now and the fourth one is for what they will be grateful for in the future.
“Chef Brett, who also teaches life skills and culinary classes, came up with the idea of the future grateful,” said Joan Curvey, FareStart life skills instructor. She is affectionately known by the students and staff as Ms. Joan. “Our students know what they are going to have because they are putting in the hard work to make it happen. It can be housing, their children being proud of them, reconnecting with their families, having a career or maybe even just having enough income to be comfortable.”
The students then share their “gratefuls” with the entire class and everyone claps to show their support. The notes are handwritten and spoken out loud because when it is written and spoken it becomes real.
“I’m grateful to have a place to call my own – no more shelter hopping.”
“I’ve been able to talk to my daughter again after ten years.”
“I’m grateful for the career I’m going to have. I have the skills for both life and work now.”
“I’m grateful that I’m clean and sober.”
Life skills classes are the first thing most mornings, and it helps students line up their thoughts for the day. When students are coming from incarceration, or poverty, or homelessness or addiction they often feel ignored, stepped on or unforgiven. Through working on themselves in the life skills classes and practicing gratitude, they learn that they are not their mistakes and they themselves aren’t a mistake.
“When someone is growing, they are allowing themselves to experience the unknown,” Ms. Joan said. “You hope things work out, but sometimes life happens. Mistakes are just information to let us know what doesn’t work so we can create the life we deserve, and our students realize they deserve more.”
Gratefulness is something that is key to everything that happens here at FareStart. The work our students are putting into themselves, the job opportunities that they seize and the chance to change their lives is all possible because of the support of the larger FareStart community. We have such amazing supporters and community partners and for that, we are truly grateful.