A very nice story from the Daily Signal about a reentry program in Washington DC.
For Marianne Ali, life started simply enough.
Born to a big, “pretty normal” family in Glenarden, Md., Ali remembers helping her mother cook dinner for her father and six brothers and sisters each night after school.
She was 17 when she tried heroin for the first time.
Her addiction wasn’t immediate, but it was vicious. She tried repeatedly and failed to get sober.
“I was searching for something,” Ali says. “It took me on a 20-year-long journey into the deep waters of misery. And then I got clean.”
At her lowest point, Ali began supplementing her heroin use with crack cocaine. She found herself going down “so hard and so fast” that she was forced to begin her final attempt at sobriety.
“I often say that if it wasn’t for crack cocaine I could still be using heroin,” Ali says. “I knew that if I didn’t seek help, I was probably going to die out there.”
Post-detox, she entered the Marian House, a long-term transitional home run by Catholic nuns in Baltimore. They referred her to a culinary school that she was able to fund with aid money.
And then, at the suggestion of various caseworkers and volunteers, she landed at D.C. Central Kitchen.
She landed on her feet, she says, for the first time in her life.
Under the Radar, Over the Norm
Just about a five-minute walk from Union Station, Washington’s landmark transportation hub, sits the unassuming D.C. Central Kitchen building, slightly pushed back from the sidewalk. If not for the line of weary-looking men and women camped on the dry grass out front, you might not look twice at the square of faded red bricks. To enter, you literally walk through an alleyway.
But the work happening there, in the cramped operating space of the 26-year-old non-profit, takes staff, volunteers and clients on a transformative journey.
“The Kitchen,” as it’s known, was founded in 1989 by restaurateur turned philanthropist Robert Egger. This month, it will celebrate the graduation of its 100th class of culinary job training program students—men and women with histories of homelessness, incarceration, poverty or simply job frustration that have come to D.C. Central Kitchen either in search of new skills and a fresh start or, sometimes, at the insistence of an exasperated family member or probation officer.
The 14-week-long culinary job training program offered and funded by D.C. Central Kitchen teaches students how to work in a kitchen environment, preparing them for jobs at partner restaurants and hospitality groups in the D.C. area.
It boasts impressive statistics, including a 93 percent job placement rate, a 2 percent recidivism rate among graduates and a cost of $10,000 per student. In contrast, it’s an estimated $50,000 a year to house an incarcerated individual.
Retrieved July 19, 2015 from http://dailysignal.com/2015/07/19/the-kitchen-of-second-chances/