Graduating from DC Central Kitchen was one of the most important milestones in William’s life, second only to overcoming his drug addiction, he says.
“I never graduated from high school,” says William, “so I didn’t know what it felt like to complete something and have people be truly proud of me.”
It’s been a little over a year since William completed the Culinary Job Training program in April 2016, but when you ask him about how he found DC Central Kitchen and what it was like starting the program as a new student, he talks about it like it was yesterday.
“I had a very interesting interview,” he jokes with a smile. “Of course, now I know that the instructors were just trying to find out if I was serious about changing my life and getting clean, but at the time I thought, ‘man, these guys are tough.’”
In 2015, after losing his mother to illness, William turned to drugs. Eventually, he found himself unemployed, homeless, and in need of a way out. He found shelter and the beginnings of stability at La Casa Transitional Rehabilitation Center, a housing program for homeless men that receives regular deliveries from DC Central Kitchen’s Community Meals program. While in that program, William was invited by one of our visiting recruiters to attend an information session about the Culinary Job Training program. It didn’t take long for him to realize where he belonged. William applied, was accepted into the program, and excelled.
After graduating from our fourteen-week program, William’s internship site, The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, notified our Workforce Development team that they were hiring. William applied and has been employed at the Ritz full-time since last July.
He’s now coming up on one year of employment at The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, and William couldn’t be happier. “I get to work with a lot of different cultures and cuisines here,” he says.
Now employed full-time, making a good wage with benefits, and with an apartment lease in his name, William’s pride radiates from him when he speaks. His DC Central Kitchen instructor, Chef Terrell Danley, “used to say in class that we should be better today than we were yesterday. I say that now when I wake up, that I’ll be better than yesterday.”