At Father Joe’s Villages, we believe in the potential of our clients, and we know employment is often the first step toward ending homelessness. Our Employment & Education Services and our vocational training programs open the door to a new, hopeful future which is why these programs are so important for people like Preston & Kendra.
Employment Services Help our Neighbors in Need Gain Independence
When Preston lost his job of 14 years, he wasn’t prepared for the difficulty of finding another job, nor did he have enough savings to sustain his family for a long period of time. When his partner, Kendra, lost her job a few months later, their situation became desperate. Being responsible for three children made the prospect of homelessness even scarier, and Preston fell into a deep depression.
“Money got tight. We tried to find housing but no one could take us in.”
While the family was living on the streets in the East Village, a Father Joe’s Outreach Supervisor spoke with them about checking into our family program, they welcomed the opportunity to leave the chaos of the streets.
“Every time I look into my kids’ eyes—I know I can’t mess up again. I can’t be a failure for my kids.”
Preston was expecting to find a safe place for his family to stay. He wasn’t expecting to rediscover his passion.
A Passion Turned into a Career
His commitment to being a good father is what motivated Preston to enroll in Father Joe’s Villages Culinary Arts Program (CAP) immediately after moving in.
Father Joe’s Villages’ sector-based vocational training programs, including our long-standing Culinary Arts Program, not only teach the skills needed to work in sought-after industries they also teach the expertise required to apply for jobs and succeed in today’s competitive job market.
Preston has had an interest in cooking since he was a child. It is a passion he learned from his own father who was in the military and used to cook for thousands of sailors.
With the help of Father Joe’s Villages, Preston found that he could now finally turn his passion for cooking into a career.
“At Culinary Arts, I learned certain techniques I didn’t know before: knife skills, cuts of meat, but also being on time, treating people with respect. The program helped me with interviews and speaking in front of a group. Chef allowed me to be myself. I appreciate everything he taught me about life, not just cooking,” Preston shares.
During his time in CAP, Preston poured his energy into his culinary creations and was able to meet other future chefs who shared in his passion. He relished the opportunity to cook for others, and enjoyed seeing their satisfied expressions after trying his food. Soon after Preston enrolled in CAP, his depression subsided, and he quickly found a job as a line cook at a busy restaurant in downtown San Diego.
Preston isn’t the only successful CAP graduate— In 2017, 92% of CAP graduates received jobs in local restaurants.
A Career Turned into a Brighter Future
Preston, Kendra and their children will be moving out to their own housing as soon as they’ve saved enough to guarantee their security. Preston says that the experience of being homeless and his time at Father Joe’s Villages has changed his outlook. He is still enjoying his job as a line chef and focusing on being the best example he can be to his children.
“Now I know: working [to support] myself is one thing and working for my kids is another. They make me want to work hard. I always tell them, ‘You’ve got to be strong out there.’”