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Partner Spotlight: Friends of Guest House

DC Central Kitchen

“Just show up.”  

These three words have become a call to action and source of comfort for students in our Culinary Job Training program.  

For Terri Morton, the words are a reminder she continually shared with the women she serves: “I let the ladies know daily that the hardest thing you can do is show up.” 

Terri is the dedicated workforce coordinator and life development coach at Friends of Guest House, a nonprofit based in Northern Virginia that provides a supportive environment for women transitioning from incarceration, helping them envision a fulfilling future beyond their past.  

She plays a pivotal role in equipping women in their program with the skills and confidence they need to reintegrate into society, and ensuring they have the tools to succeed in the workforce. Several of her clients will be graduating from DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program this coming Friday. “It’s been amazing just to hear how their daily routine is here,” she shared.  

As graduation approaches, Terri reflected on the emotional journey many of these women have gone through, rebuilding their lives after numerous setbacks. “It’s not easy starting over and being confident in yourself enough to grasp these opportunities,” she said. “Especially when you’ve been let down so many times, which a lot of the men and women, that come through [the Culinary Job Training] program are.” 

In 2024, DC Central Kitchen launched new Culinary Job Training program classes specifically geared toward the needs, hours, and learning preferences of single mothers facing barriers to employment, including histories of justice system involvement. 

I was really kind of hesitant about getting out there and joining the workforce,” says Judy T., a member of Culinary Job Training Class 162 who found the program through Terri’s guidance. “Class has been great. I tell everybody to come because it gives them an opportunity to work but also learn. This program just gave me more confidence!” Now, Judy is looking forward to graduating with her peers on April 5. 

As these classes grow, we are excited to continue to build upon this partnership with Friends of Guest House creating opportunities to build brighter futures for women across the DMV. Together we reinforce the belief that every woman has the power to shape her destiny, regardless of her past.