Please enjoy this February Photo-of-the-Month. This is our monthy snapshot to share with friends and family. If you dig it, you'll see it again next month. Thanks for viewing...
Doron, Abby, Alex and the FoodWhat Crew
I get asked by the press a lot: "What kind of youth empowerment do participants in FoodWhat walk away with?" (Basically, "How do they grow?") It's one of my favorite conversations as the answers are as rich and deep as our soils.
Last week we had our first annual Winter Celebration Event. (Click here to read all about it.) Our highlighted speaker was Brandon, a FoodWhat Alumni and Jr. Staff from 2009 and 2010. Brandon told us about his hard path in life and how it led him to abuse drugs and alcohol: "I was robbing myself of my own happiness...I was so tired living day to day, basically as a zombie...I needed something to wake me up." One year ago, almost to the day, Brandon stepped into his power and asked the Judge he was standing before to assign him to a residential rehab in San Jose. This was not a cop out to serving time--this was his opportunity to get more time, but in a productive way, to turn his life around. "In conversations with my Mom in the past, and my friends, they were always wondering if I was gonna come home, or be alive the next day, or end up in jail. Now they don't have to worry about that."
Brandon was one year completely sober from drugs and alcohol this past Tuesday. He has obtained housing in San Jose that he pays the monthly rent on time, and he recently received a promotion to better hours and pay at his job at Applebee's. He has a sponsor for when things feel hard, and he's engaging with his family in positive ways. (Click the YouTube below to hear Brandon share a spoken word piece about his story.)
One type of youth empowerment looks like Brandon's story. Finding a safe, supportive community--in this case, FoodWhat. Having someone tell you that they see in you a spark of leadership--something bright, worth following. Taking two steps forward for every one back. Then through struggle, and self medicating, and sadness and despair, finally seeing that spark for yourself--and pouncing on the opportunity to be that person. Brandon inspired all the other youth in the room that night, that anything is possible. That they can be the brilliant, healthy, strong people if they choose to. It's an honor to be a part of his process and that of so many youth that FoodWhat touches. This week, we celebrate Brandon.