"It's a place where people care, where people get second chances, without judgment."
Dale, a graduate of our Adult Culinary Program, shares the powerfully positive role FareStart has had on his journey through recovery to a job that brought him full circle, where he gives back by cooking for those in need.
Somehow, the darkest days of my life wound up saving me.
I was homeless, staying in shelters. My drug abuse had such a tight grip on me, I kept digging myself deeper and deeper into this self-destructive hole. I thought I’d hit rock bottom before. But this time, something felt different. I realized I was either going to give up or turn things around.
So I got myself into treatment and learned about FareStart during my second month in recovery. I knew I needed a job, and the Adult Culinary Program sounded like a great place to start. Not only that, FareStart helped me move into sober housing and covered my rent for several months.
I’ll never forget the first time I walked into FareStart. The energy in the building is magical. You can feel it, this sense of belonging. It’s a place where people care, where people get second chances, without judgment. I’d never experienced that before.
In our classes and in the kitchen, we had these daily mantras to help us stay focused and grounded. There’s one I think back on a lot.
I’m going to pull it down. I’m going to pull it up.
I’m going to open up and receive it. And I’m not just going to talk about it.
I’m going to be about it! I own my greatness.
There was a group of us, we’d been through the thick of it a few times. We really supported each other. We decided we were going to get everything we could out of this opportunity. And we did.
As we made it through each phase of our training, we mastered knife skills, recipe conversions, tilt skillet operations and more. We learned how to work as a team, to give and receive feedback with positive attitudes, to believe in ourselves and each other. We mentored new students as they started the program.
FareStart is where it all came together for me, really. It’s where I realized that everything I do, for myself and for others, is part of a bigger picture. It’s why I turned down a higher-paying job offer to work in the kitchen of Lifelong’s Chicken Soup Brigade, preparing meals for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses.
I was one of those people before. At times, I relied on Lifelong for food assistance, help with housing, and other needs. They’ve been there for me, and now I get be there for them.
It’s all come full circle. And it feels like I’m just getting started.