Dana's Story: Adult Culinary Graduate

August 25, 2021

Today, Dana (she, her) has her own housing, a driver’s license, a car, stable employment, savings and is building credit with her first credit card. These are no small feats considering Dana experienced a period of incarceration until March of 2021. According to Dana, “without FareStart, I wouldn’t have any of it.”

When Dana re-entered society, she had one goal in mind: she did not want to fail. Growing up, Dana struggled with employment and financial planning, which she says was the root of what led to incarceration. In Dana’s words, “it’s easy to get into prison, hard to get out.” Incarceration did little to set Dana up for success. She had never written a resume or cover letter and the only recent work experience Dana had was in the prison system. She also developed trust barriers that are common with long periods of incarceration. Dana’s family members had either passed away or moved, and she desired a supportive community. A friend of Dana’s encouraged her to enroll in FareStart’s virtual Adult Culinary Program. As a gender non-conforming individual, even housing was a challenge to find. Dana had challenges and came to FareStart ready to face them.

What she needed turned out to be exactly what FareStart had to offer: a program focused on establishing her values and goals.

In addition, the virtual program offered something else she needed: technology skills. Having spent almost no time with computers and smartphones, the virtual training program set her up with skills she needed to live in the present world.

With the help of the Self-Empowerment and Financial Futures series, Dana was able to not only establish her goals, but accomplish them. She has completed all the goals she set for herself and is now working on a completely new set, including establishing her career path and continuing to build credit. She also credits the community that she established in her virtual classes for helping her rebuild her trust in people. Not only has Dana remained open to the support and encouragement that FareStart gave to her, she gives it right back.