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William is a gentle, articulate man who is also an artist – but he has never been able to translate his passion into a career – until now!

One year ago, William was unemployed and struggling with a number of serious health issues. While having a meal at The Ottawa Mission, he found out about the Food Services Training Program (FSTP), and decided to talk to The Mission’s Chef Ric about enrolling. He was accepted into the program and was making great progress until another health crisis meant he had to discontinue the training. When he was well again, he was accepted back without question, and he graduated from the program in June 2018.

His experience in the FSTP had a profound effect on William. What struck him from the beginning was the high quality of the kitchen environment, and the equally high standards and strong work ethic of the staff and volunteers who work there every day. And, what fed William’s artistic spirit was the opportunity to create so many different types of food, and to participate in catering activities where his plating talents shone. His health has improved, and he attributes this to his success in the program, and his newfound passion for the art of cooking.

William is now working as well as attending Algonquin College’s Indigenous Cook Pre-apprenticeship program. In December, he will earn his high school diploma from coop credits earned through the Continuing Education department of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, and an English course he is taking at The Mission’s Stepping Stones Learning Centre. He plans to continue his culinary education at Algonquin and achieve his Red Seal designation.

So, what a difference a year has made in William’s life! As he says, “Chef Ric and the FSTP gave me the support, encouragement and practical tools I needed to re-invent my life. I am so thankful.”