"I'm 39. I grew up in Houston. I only got one brother; he's two years younger. We always lived in southeast Houston, but moved around. I went through three different elementary schools. I would say I grew up kinda poor, but money's not everything. My parents did the best they could.
[After high school] I went to college for a little bit. I actually had a full ride scholarship to [University of Houston]. But my parents needed money, so me and my dad started a construction company back in 1999. We had the company for about 15 years. I probably worked 10 years with him, the last five years I was really working on my own, doing side jobs. Because the first seven, eight years were really good. But competition, you know. People were demanding more and paying less. So I went on my own.
The reason I heard about SER was that I was going to fax my resume at the Worksource, and a lady just came to me and told me about the [Serving for Success] culinary program with SER. I was like, ‘well, I've always loved to cook.’ I wasn't going to turn it down. I went to the two-week job readiness program. It wasn't guaranteed that I was going to be accepted to the culinary program. But I was.
I went to the culinary program, I got a job, and now I work for U.S. VETS
. I've been there about six months. I'm the head guy in the kitchen when I'm there. There's only two cooks. We're open 24-7, 365 days a year. We never close. For lunch I feed 40 people. For dinner, 60. If no one shows up to volunteer, which hasn't happened yet, it's just me in the kitchen.
I love it, I ain't going to lie to you. There's only one ingredient that you put into food that makes it taste good, and that's love. So long as as you put love into it, it'll taste good.
I think that Rickey [Davis, SER Workforce Development Lead] asked me, about a week or two ago, to go and give the commencement speech at a [SER] graduation. I told him it's the least I could do. And in the speech I said that it just took me a while to realize what my passion was. But once you know what your passion is, the rest is easy. It really is.
Everyone knows that I love to cook. My people are proud. But one thing is people being proud of me, and one thing is being proud of yourself. And when I did that little speech, people were clapping. I was kind of proud of what I overcame.
I want to get as much experience as I can. I want to get a little taco truck running. Just because it's cheaper than opening up a restaurant.
It's a great journey so far. Nothing just falls in your lap, but this really fell on my lap. Which is kind of crazy. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I really appreciate you all."
if you'd like to learn more about SER's Serving for Success Program.