Djwna had heard about the Cincinnati COOKS! program when she was still living on the streets. “My timing was off,” she says. “Every time I called, a new class had always just started. But this time, I decided to show up in person.”
Her third time proved to be the charm. Djwna sat down and spoke with Katie McCracken, Cincinnati COOKS! Admissions and Career Counselor. “I told her I was ready to get my life going in a different direction. She told me to report to class early Monday morning.”
Fast-forward ten weeks – on graduation day, Djwna’s large family takes up the first three rows of the audience. As she received her certificate and special recognition award, her children and grandchildren erupted in praise and applause.
“I haven’t felt this feeling of achievement since sixth grade graduation,” she says.
Djwna admittedly went down the wrong path early on, having dropped out of high school in the 11th grade. A series of bad choices followed and she eventually found herself living out of her car.
“When I connected with Katie, I knew that Cincinnati COOKS! was the first step towards the new direction in my life. I loved everything about the program. Even when I had personal challenges that could have kept me from school, I always made it in. I finally had a positive focus in my life.”
Djwna now works part-time for the Cincinnati Cooks Catering program, and is aspiring to work full time in the near future. She has a passion for ‘making stuff look pretty,’ and enjoys baking and garnishing. She has dreams of someday going into the restaurant business with her sister and teaching her everything she learned at Cincinnati COOKS!
“Before finding this program, I felt like I was always paying over and over for past mistakes. Cincinnati COOKS! instructors only looked at my potential; they championed me, and that made all the difference. That former life is over. I’ve finally arrived at my new life.”
“I am proof that you can start over and succeed,” she says. “I can literally take deep breaths again.”