David understands the importance of setting and achieving goals. He has focused the past year on self-improvement and continues to create new goals for himself. David began with physical and mental wellness goals that included working out, meditating, and taking time to read almost every day. His workout regimen includes strength training exercises and running. When he first began his self-improvement journey, he weighed over 250 pounds and could not run more than ten minutes at a time. With continuous commitment to his routine, he has lost over 75 pounds and runs for 45 minutes at a time, clocking in about three miles each run.
In addition to his personal physical and mental wellness, David sought to find a career. He has worked in various restaurant roles as a dishwasher, music entertainment, and food preparation at a local country club. He found himself gravitating toward being a cook so when he saw the flyer for FRESHstart Kitchen that his job developer just happened to have sitting on his desk, David was immediately interested and with help, submitted his program application. Out of the thirty people who applied, David was one of the seven accepted, and one of three graduates of the inaugural class of FRESHstart Kitchen, a program offered through Chester County Food Bank. FRESHstart staff Amy Rossman and Chef Rammey Moran commented that David displayed enthusiasm toward the culinary arts and a desire for personal growth from the very beginning, making him an ideal candidate.
FRESHstart Kitchen’s mission is to assist local people who have limited work experience in the culinary field, modest academic skills, and other barriers to steady employment. FRESH stands for “Focusing Resources on Employment, Self-Sufficiency, and Health.” It’s a full-time, forty hour a week program that runs for 14 weeks. In addition to culinary skills, the program incorporates a self-empowerment portion that teaches necessary job readiness skills.
After graduation, FRESHstart Kitchen placed David at a local fine dining restaurant where he interned for three weeks before being offered a paid position. He currently works about 25 hours a week, is paid competitively for a beginning cook, and feels that there is room for growth. “I see the next step,” David said, “I just need to keep using down time to observe and learn the next station (hot foods).”
While David would one day like to become a Head Chef or Sous Chef, he’s happy with his work hours right now. He wishes to return to school for a degree in liberal arts, enjoys continuing to have time to meditate, read, and workout, and uses time on his days off to teach guitar.
While he has developed friendships with his co-workers and participates in group activities such as bowling outside of the workplace, David identifies that he struggles to make small-talk and has recently started taking steps toward making a goal to improve in this area by learning about sports, weather, and other common topics. As part of his support system, his Job Developer and Behavior Health Specialist will work closely with him to help develop appropriate steps and timelines to meet his goal.
Congratulations David on all of your accomplishments!