Meet Jennifer, Promise Culinary Student
Arriving in Mercer County as a survivor of domestic violence with two small children to support, Jennifer would hardly have been expected to volunteer her time to help others. But that’s what she was doing a few months ago at an organization that helps the homeless when her food preparation skills were noticed by a woman she knows as Miss June.
“She saw that I was good with chopping and slicing and told me to read about Promise Culinary School,” Jennifer related. “I felt like it was an opportunity for low-income people, and it taught math skills and communication skills.”
Seeing that Promise Culinary School had been operating for 20 years impressed her. “It made me feel like, wow, I’m accepted.”
With the help and encouragement of Miss June, who has funded her tuition, Jennifer started her culinary training in January, commuting daily to New Brunswick by train.
“The experience has been a little bit tough,” she admits, but notes proudly, “I passed the ServSafe exam.” (ServSafe is a food service sanitation course developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to provide certification for food service employees. All Promise Culinary students receive ServSafe training. Chef Elizabeth Sadi of Promise Culinary School faculty is a certified ServSafe instructor.)
Jennifer, who was once homeless herself, says she wants to use her culinary training to give back to the community and help other women the way she was helped. She said she is grateful to Homefront for helping her to get housing and child care.
“I want to give back because they gave to me,” Jennifer said. “I want to give somebody else the opportunity because that person gave me the opportunity. I’m really happy that Miss June donated so that I could go to school. She knows my goals.”
Jennifer says she would like to become a chef and “help those who need to be fed. I also want to make something for women who are going through trauma like I did.”
“I didn’t have a voice, but now I do,” Jennifer said. “I want to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves – who are lost like I was, who don’t know how to ask for help, to let them know they’re not alone.”
___________________________________________________________________The Promise Culinary School blog will follow Jennifer as she completes her training this year.