The Matthews House, a non-profit in Fort Collins, provided Amy with critical skills she needed in the Restaurant Ready program

As one of the first graduates of The Matthews House Restaurant Ready program, Amy talks about her experience with enthusiasm. Growing up, Amy had a tumultuous home life. Her parents separated and she ended up moving back-and-forth from Fort Collins to Arizona to live with them. While living with her dad, Amy started to realize she enjoyed cooking, even going so far as to join a cooking class. Her dad at the time wasn’t working or doing well, so she took on the cooking responsibilities at home.


During this time, she was in an abusive relationship and not doing well in school. Amy was worried that she wouldn’t graduate high school, so she moved back to Colorado to live with her mom her senior year. When asked about why she moved back, Amy said, “Seeing the path I was going down, I didn’t want to be like my parents. My parents didn’t graduate high school.”


During Amy’s senior year, Justin, the Restaurant Ready Coordinator, visited her class to share about the program. While he was talking, Amy got more and more excited. School had always been a struggle for her, but Restaurant Ready would be an opportunity to learn about something Amy was passionate about. She enrolled immediately. Being part of the program gave her the confidence she needed to persevere through her senior year, graduate, and get a job. She says, “Confidence was the biggest thing. Being told you did it wrong, but it’s ok. It’s a huge confidence builder.”


Amy graduated from high school in May of 2018. She says she fulfilled her goal of “wear[ing] that red gown and doing the one thing I really wanted for myself.” She continued to participate in Restaurant Ready over the summer, acquiring her ServeSafe certificate, learning soft skills she can utilize in any job, and discovering a passion. At the end of the program she applied for a job at a local restaurant. Going into the interview she felt confident because she already had a base knowledge about the restaurant industry. A few weeks into the job during a dinner rush, she became overwhelmed. She wanted to quit, but held on to the truths she learned in Restaurant Ready. She remembered she is more than capable, and has the skills needed to succeed. She is not one to give up.


Amy experienced some traumatizing events in her life. She had gotten in trouble with the law, been kicked out of class, and lacked a stable home life. Looking back on her past, Amy says “It helped me realize who I want to be.” She’s only 18, so she can’t say for sure that she’ll go into the restaurant industry as a career, but Amy does feel more equipped for the working world. One of the critical skills she has learned and continues to develop is communication, which will be important in any field.


She says, “the kids in Restaurant Ready on the outside look like at-risk, IEP, juveniles [who are rough around the edges], but the program has instilled confidence in all of us…I completed something I was committed to and [built valuable relationships].”

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