Kathy (pictured right) is a 2023 graduate of our core 16-week Level 1 job training program at Forge City Works. She is currently in transitional employment at The Kitchen for additional skills development and support. The following is in her own words… 

At the beginning when I signed up, I didn’t really put much thought into it. And you know, as I started the program, it has helped me in so many ways like. Besides just teaching me you know how to how to cook and how to prepare food and all those things, it gave me a reason to hope. 

This past year was really challenging. I was struggling with mental health like I have never struggled before. I have struggled with addiction issues for my lifetime and three years ago I got clean, and I have been dealing with legal consequences from it. So, between that and everything in my life is falling apart. I didn’t find any joy or purpose in anything really.  

I am in recovery now but because I was struggling so much, you know, I broke down and unfortunately relapsed. And after that I went to Mercy House and then I found this program. And you know, it helped me in so many ways. I really didn’t think that I could work…that I could function.  I am here, and I am functioning. It’s making me feel useful. It’s making me feel like I can add something to life, which is important, because it gives me purpose. 

I have worked in restaurants all my life – mostly serving food. I never thought I would consider doing prepping/cooking.  And it’s a cool thing because, you know, for the first time, I think in a long time, I am beginning to think that, you know, perhaps all this culinary restaurant experience that I’ve had throughout the years I can maybe put it to use. I’m not sure how or where it’s going to go, but I’m going to put all that I learned together and make it work for me. 

I am so glad that I took the first step. Because this is everything that I have, you know, I wake up in the morning and I go to the bus station and I get here and I do what I have to do, you know? And then I go home. And by the time I go home I feel really accomplished.  The work you do here for people like me…nurturing us all through food and you know helping people build lives is wonderful. I’m grateful.