I haven't blogged in a while. I took a new job as soon as school got out. I never pictured myself in the non-profit world (although, some might argue it's not so different from the adjunct professor gig). and, for the record, I'm still an adjunct. I teach online English classes for the college of Western Idaho. But, now I spend my 40ish hours a week as the Community Impact and Training Manager at Create Common Good.
I'm using my years as hotel events coordinator, English tutor/teacher to non-native populations, and my experience as a clinical coordinator to train those with barriers to employment (refugees, those with mental or physical issues, previous incarcerations, women fleeing abusive situations, and recovering addicts to name a few)... and help them find a job in the food industry, earning a full-time, live able wage with benefits.
When I see it written out like this, it sounds impressive. I see the value in it.
But, I haven't described my day to you. Over the last 2 months, I've been learning as much as my trainees about working in a commercial kitchen. I work with an amazing team of dedicated, smart, compassionate people. I'm helping revise a curriculum so that it is repeatable and practical.
What does that look like?
it looks like... me wearing a chef's coat and hairnet when I get to my classroom. It means spending a lot of time talking about and demonstrating the harmful effects of the spread of bacteria and proper hand washing techniques. It looks like supervising students as they wash dishes, take out trash, use knives, and bus tables. This is not a glamorous job.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
In this humble place, I am learning to understand nourishment in a whole new way. Food is necessary to sustain life. Even bacteria need food to survive.
These trainees come to us from broken, needy, desperate places. I am reminded every time I slip into my hairnet and greet my students, that every one of us is walking wounded.
Earnest Hemingway once wrote, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." I might over use this quote. It bothers me how true it is. And, it helps me to know that Jesus walked this same broken road. I'm learning to embrace brokenness in a new way as well. I'm learning that sometimes the greatest healing comes from having a safe, consistent place to show up at regularly, a place where we are missed when we've been absent, a place where we can play a vital role.
We just can't help it. Our brokenness spills out everywhere. More often than not, my little speech about managing the chaos of the dishpit unravels into a conversation about understanding and overcoming the chaos in our lives. its rarely just about dirty dishes.
A blemish on a permanent record, a past built mostly of unsafe choices, a limiting medical diagnosis does not need to be the end for anyone. Out tag line at the office is: creating fresh starts from scratch. I love this. And it's true. I've seen it.
The first time a new group executes a lunch for our entire team, they start out looking overwhelmed and nervous. By the time they plate and serve their dish, they are waiting to see if we enjoy it. By the time we've finished our meal, the lunch room is bursting, everyone is full and grateful, and ready to try it again.
Food is more than nourishment. Food brings us together.
One of our current trainees is a Muslim refugee from Somalia and now that Ramadan is over, we've learned of her enthusiastic love of American French fries. Another is a young woman from Nigeria who told me how shocked she was to cook and eat and enjoy everyone here without even a hint of racism. Don't we all need a place like this to be nourished and grow?!
I see this whole foray into the food world is also bringing a sense of family to the most unlikely place: work. I am so grateful!
This is Not the End,