From Crisis to the Kitchen - The City Mission of Cleveland, Ohio

About a month ago we highlighted upgrades and programs new to the Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center at The City Mission thanks to incredible community support; one of these changes was the addition of Crossroads Culinary Kitchen, a culinary arts training program.  Recently, women from Laura’s Home began to participate in the program alongside the men.  The first two women to come through training are Flo and Georgia.  Despite their different personalities and backgrounds, the two arrived at Laura’s Home through similar circumstances.
Both Flo and Georgia were incarcerated before coming to The City Mission.  Through Inmate Outreach Servicesthey received support and learned about Christ and their options at The City Mission after prison.  Adjusting to life at Laura’s home was a process, but one that ultimately led them to the culinary program.  Georgia remarks that the transition was overwhelming at first, but “Laura’s Home gives you the tools, you just have to use them.”  The women began by working in the kitchen and after being noticed for their work ethic various program directors both were invited to apply for culinary classes.
For Flo, joining the culinary program was an exciting and natural step.  She had always loved cooking, but before coming to The City Mission and working with program director James, she never understood the art of cooking.  Georgia’s experience was almost the opposite.  She laughs that she had never cooked or had an interest in cooking a day in her life prior to entering the program, but was determined to make this opportunity her own.

The students will work for days planning, preparing, and presenting a dish that people will only enjoy for five minutes – and those five minutes are what make everything worth it for Flo, Georgia and the rest of the culinary team.  They express that the reward is in the reaction, as well as in learning, using their imagination and experimenting with new dishes.  Georgia may have known nothing coming in, but now she truly appreciates the process and hopes to build a life from her new skills.

Flo and Georgia will graduate from the culinary program soon and move on to internships they will acquire through their training at The City Mission.  However, how to make stuffed pork chops is not the only lesson they have learned during their time in the program.  The pair is walking away with major faith in God’s providence.  Flo hoped to complete a degree in sign language before being recommended for culinary arts classes.  “You never know what is in God’s plan… you have to pray and ask where God would send you,” she notes.  Georgia holds a similar view, believing that going to prison was the start of a journey that brought her here.  Obtaining a job after the culinary program is not simply about her making money or having a career.  “At the end of the day this is about putting my life back together.”

We are proud to see these women come through crisis and take initiative in their classes.  Your support and prayer is helping students continuing on from the Crossroads Culinary Kitchen, as well as for the new students who will be entering the program soon.  If you would like to learn more about the program or how you can further support students financially visit our culinary arts program page.

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