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Stories of Hope and Courage: Life Changing Experience

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Stories of Hope & Courage– Life Changing Experience

Life Changing Experience

When I started the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program, it changed my life.

Before this program, I was an assistant manager at a gas station, but even with that job, it was still a struggle for my husband and I to keep our heads above water. When I heard about this program from a friend, I hesitated to call, at first. When I finally did, though, I never could have imagined how much my life was about to change for the better.

In the beginning, it was a huge challenge for me. My hours were cut to part-time at work, and we were relying on my husband's small income. I was worried I would have to quit and find more work, so we wouldn't get behind on bills.

I prayed, “God, if this is for me, I know that you will make a way.” Guess what? That's exactly what happened. My husband found a second job, and because he wanted me to follow my dreams, I was able to continue.

One of my favorite parts of the culinary training program was, of course, the food! However, the staff, my classmates, guest speakers, and guest chefs at Second Harvest were some of the most caring people I had ever met. This program became more than a place to learn and grow, it became a family I could count on.

The life skills classes gave me a safe environment to express myself, and through that I was able to release a lot of the things that I hadn’t realized were holding me back. I am so appreciative of the tough love given to me by Chef John Dixon and Chef Izzy Santiago, and cannot thank them enough. This program taught me a lot about myself.

There were plenty of days I wanted to just give up, but the Chef Instructors and case workers wouldn't let me. They showed me they cared for me, and they gave me the motivation I needed to follow through and finish strong. So that's exactly what I did.

My life has changed so much for the better since starting the culinary training program at Second Harvest. I was fortunate enough to find a few jobs after completion of the program, but thanks to the help of Idalia Nunez, I found the one that really works for me. I am working a job I love and don't mind getting up and going to. I look forward to my days at Village on the Green. I have a wonderful schedule that allows me to be home with my kids, and I now make more money than I have ever made.

I am proud to say that June marked my one year anniversary at Village on the Green. Now, everywhere I go I tell people my story and hope it will encourage them to want to do better. The first thing I say is Second Harvest Food Bank changed my life. Recently, I ran into two students currently attending the training program at the food bank, and the first thing I told them was to stick with it, because it is worth it. This program will guide you in the right direction, and help you reach your goals. They will not stop until you are happy at a job you enjoy and can grow. My focus now is on my future and my family. I am learning new things every day. My next step is to start a small business!

Never give up on yourself. You never know what you are capable of doing until you do it. To everyone at Second Harvest Food Bank, and everyone who supports the culinary program, you have played a part in helping me get to where I am today. I want you to know I am very grateful for your commitment and dedication. Thank you for supporting the program, and helping people like me to have a better future.

Shandra Petition
Culinary Training Program Graduate

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