“Goodwill’s culinary program taught me skills I use everyday. I still have a lot to learn, and that happens every day thanks to the good teachers here on the job. With more education and support, one day I will be opening the doors at my own place!”
Three years ago, Bennet Ellefson’s dream of becoming a restaurant owner had all but disappeared. Trying to cope with mounting life stress, he turned to drugs. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, his apartment burned down, leaving him homeless.
Thankfully, friends were able to provide Bennet with temporary shelter and he eventually ended up at the Tacoma Rescue Mission. As part of the Mission’s New Life Program, Bennet received room and board, drug treatment, and nurturing support from program staff. Importantly, he also had access to the Mission’s High School GED completion program through Bates Technical College. Realizing this was an opportunity to put himself back on the path to fulfilling his dream, Bennet completed his GED. From there, Mission staff referred him to Goodwill’s culinary skills program. The next phase of his journey had begun.
In preparation for culinary skills, Bennet spent two weeks in Goodwill’s Career Readiness Education & Development (CRED) program, a precursor to job training covering work fundamentals, communication and customer service, and job search skills. Our inclusive approach focuses on respecting each individual and their diverse life experiences and backgrounds. Through this support, Bennet’s confidence grew, his network of friends expanded and his life of hardship truly seemed in the rearview mirror.
In Goodwill’s Culinary Program, Bennet was soon honing his kitchen skills alongside fellow students. He learned everything from the basics of food preparation and cooking to creating prep lists for daily menus to serving and cashiering. Importantly, he was also able to participate in preparing gourmet meals for special events at Goodwill.
Thanks to new relationships he had established during training, Bennet was able to move out of Tacoma Rescue Mission and rent a house with friends. Within a month after graduation from Goodwill’s Culinary program, Bennet landed a cook position at Tacoma’s Spar restaurant!