“What’s different,” ponders Matt. “Well, I’m ServSafe certified, finally employed and I’ve lost 20 pounds from not just sitting around, for starters,” he says with a genuine smile.
Matt was unemployed for three years. He applied to as many places as he could, only to be met with silence. Matt was finding that one mistake was creating a major roadblock on the path to gaining employment. At the time, Matt was struggling with deep depression and got in trouble with the law. The 42-year-old Mt. Lookout native says that his family and friends abandoned him as a result of his actions.
Alone and in need of a fresh start, Matt decided to apply for the Freestore Foodbank’s Cincinnati COOKS! culinary job training program. About a month later, was accepted into the 134th class. He had always liked kitchen work.
“Cincinnati COOKS! is sort of a magical place. There’s nowhere else I’ve ever been in my life where you can have so many people who are so different, but bond together and work as a team to get things accomplished.”
A longtime Cincinnati COOKS! volunteer directed Matt to a golden opportunity, telling him about a job opening at Via Vite Italian bistro on Fountain Square. Matt applied and was hired just four days after graduating from Cincinnati COOKS!. Matt is currently preparing the handcrafted artisan pizzas during the lunch hour. He says he enjoys the Via Vite staff and the work that he’s doing there.
Matt is taking much better care of himself these days, and you can actually see the confidence on his face. He is planning to enroll in the Freestore Foodbank’s Second Course class to continue his culinary journey. Matt is proud of what he accomplished during his time at Cincinnati COOKS!, his great new job and the promise of a better tomorrow.