Dear Friends of Forge City Works, 

Back in 2016, I sat down with Cary Wheaton and The Kitchen’s then-chef Becky McGuigan to pick their brains about culinary job training and running a social enterprise restaurant. I was part of a team planning a new culinary job training program in Manchester, CT, and Cary, Becky and the whole team were incredibly generous with their time, knowledge, and wisdom.  

That day, I fell in love with the mission and vision of Forge City Works: making lives better through the power of food. That vision has continued to inspire me over the last six years as I have sought to live it out in my own context and communities. 

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of starting work as the new Executive Director of Forge City Works. I am honored to be working alongside Becky and the team Cary built as I steward her legacy and vision while also forging a course forward for this important work. 

With a focus on expanding food access amid a “food swamp,” providing life-changing culinary job readiness training, and leveraging the power of social enterprise and economic development to transform neighborhoods, Forge City Works is on the frontlines of this critical work in Frog Hollow and the City of Hartford. 

At Forge City Works, we believe that people have the power to change the direction of their lives. With practical resources, hands-on training, consistent encouragement, and a team of people supporting them with a hand up, not a handout — people’s lives are made better through the power of food. 

I saw this first-hand on my first day on the job, as I met four of our newest culinary job trainees. Each trainee was there for a different reason and faced different barriers to employment in their lives. But what they had in common was a desire to learn, to grow, to be challenged. You could feel the positive energy in the room. 

What struck me most was the way the Forge City Works staff treated these individuals as more than just trainees; the staff wants to see these trainees thrive both in and out of the program. When they found out that one of the trainees was facing housing insecurity and was at-risk for experiencing homelessness, several staff members strategized a plan to help him get secure housing. It was an honor to watch our staff live out our mission in real time and come together to support and care for this trainee. 

This is just one small example of what we do and what we are about at Forge City Works – making lives better through the power of food. 

I want to thank you for your essential past and continued support for the work and mission of Forge City Works. Without your support and partnership, we would not be able to do what we do. Together, we are committed to honoring our legacy as we look forward to innovative ways to expand our impact on our community and beyond.  

I would love to connect with you, listen, and share more stories, so please always feel free to reach out. You have an open invitation to join me for breakfast or lunch at The Kitchen! 

We live in challenging times. These challenges have taken a greater toll on those who were already struggling – those who face serious barriers to employment and those who lack access to wholesome and nutritious foods – which includes many of our neighbors.  

These challenges are also opportunities. Together, this is our opportunity as a community to step up and step out as neighbors helping neighbors, believing that change is possible and that there is a simple dignity and hope that comes from being able to put a wholesome meal on the table or work a good job.  

This is the challenge we embrace at Forge City Works – and the opportunity we believe in. Making lives better through the power of food. 

Thank you again – it is a privilege to serve by your side. 

Ben Dubow
Executive Director

P.S. Please join us for a welcome celebration “Meet & Greet” On April 28th, from 4:30-7pm, at The Kitchen – I hope you will stop by to introduce yourself as well as enjoy some good food and drink. You can RSVP on our website or by clicking here.