We are so proud to share the story of Arnold, a graduate of our Foodservice Training program who is now gainfully employed and providing motivation for new students who are hoping to reach the same level of success!
Arnold’s story began in the far Southside of Chicago. “As I was growing up, I always used to seek a thrill.” The fast paced life he lived as a child and teenager was “the lifestyle that I chose for myself at an early age, not knowing I was headed for destruction…even coming from a good family upbringing.”
Arnold felt consumed by his thrill-seeking lifestyle, and his party mentality and criminal involvement eventually led him to become homeless. He began frequenting Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood.
During this time, Arnold noticed a construction project starting on Lake Street. That site would eventually become Inspiration Kitchens – Garfield Park, one of Inspiration Corporation’s social enterprise restaurants and the home of our Foodservice Training program, which provides 100 people each year with 13-weeks of hands-on culinary instruction supported by individualized case management for those facing barriers to self-sufficiency.
“I never knew that they were building the foundation over there that would change my life.”
After some time, Arnold secured transitional housing but still, “needed something positive to belong to; I was still searching at that point.” He spotted an Inspiration Corporation brochure on the bulletin board in his building and was curious yet cautious as he felt his criminal background was an insurmountable barrier to employment. Words of encouragement from a friend motivated Arnold to try the program, and he eventually enrolled and graduated in 2012.
Since graduating, Arnold has secured employment at Green Tomato Cafe and also continues to work part-time at Inspiration Kitchens – Garfield Park. “I look forward to getting up in the morning. I’m anxious to get here.”
Arnold’s positive influence does not stop with the changes in his own life. Thankful for his newfound opportunities, Arnold is dedicated to motivating new students in the Foodservice Training program so they can experience the same success. “They are a reflection of where I started. I try to be a light. I try to be an inspiration.”