News From the Kitchen
Life at Liberty’s Kitchen is never boring, and stellar staff make it all the more fun. We sat down with our summer intern, Brendan, to discuss his experience at LK before he heads home!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Washington, DC but I go to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. There I am a psychology major and education minor going into my senior year. I walked on to Dartmouth’s Varsity Heavyweight Rowing Team my freshman year and have been competing with them ever since. I’m also a member of the Beta Alpha Omega fraternity. After graduation, I would like to do something in education that would allow me to combine my psych and education background. I’m still figuring out if that means teaching, working at a place like Liberty’s Kitchen, or something else.
Describe your typical day at Liberty’s Kitchen.
Most of my time here was in the Orientation class with Ms. D. I mainly helped facilitate discussions about conflict resolution, anger management, goal planning, etc. I also got to watch the class progress from a group of individuals to one unified class over the course of the three weeks, which was really fun to be a part of in both Orientation groups that I worked with.
Other days I worked with Harry in Professional Development and helped edit resumes, write cover letters, and practice job interviewing. Trainees in this group are beginning the job search process so it was fun to see them land their externships after going through the frustrating process of creating resumes.
In between the two Orientation sessions, I also worked with Devon in the Youth Leadership Program. Since it’s a new program a lot of my work was helping design what this section of Liberty’s Kitchen would look like. I reached out to the Leadership Council to come in for Career Development and Goal Planning office hours but I also worked with the team to plan future events.
What was your relationship like with the trainees?
My relationship with the trainees was great! I was pretty close with the trainees in the Orientation class because that’s where I spent most of my time. We joked around a fair amount outside of the class (during breaks and Family Meal) and had really good conversations on the different topics covered in class. I definitely felt like I was included in their development to becoming one class of teammates.
Even with trainees I didn’t know as well, I didn’t feel like I was out of the group – from trainees to staff alike, I always felt welcomed and included in whatever was going on.
What was your biggest takeaway from your internship?
Liberty’s Kitchen is a small organization, but their work is powerful and fun to be around! I was lucky enough to sit in on one of the graduations and you can see just from that one hour how much love LK puts into what they do. Everyone comes to celebrate the recent graduates and they bring family members as well as employers. And it’s not just putting on a show; it really does demonstrate that this work doesn’t just happen in the building. It takes family. It takes partnerships. It takes community. It takes commitment from everyone involved and you can see that graduations are one of the many ways LK takes the time to celebrate their trainees and graduates for their hard work and dedication to the process, and to thank community members for supporting their process.
I think it speaks a lot to what Liberty’s Kitchen does everyday: they aren’t just empowering youth to do better for themselves. They’re creating community leaders that, by doing well for themselves, can empower those around them to do the same.
Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to our trainees, Brendan! We know you’ll do great things and will miss having you in the classroom!
–Posted by Nadia Laher, Development Coordinator
For a year now, I’ve worked at Liberty’s Kitchen as our Career Development Manager. I’ve worked intensively with over sixty of our trainees and graduates. I’ve watched them warm up to the program, set goals, reach them, fall short of them, get excited, get disappointed, and get back up to do the whole thing over again. I’ve come to understand what we are asking of them.
On the surface, we are asking them to enter a workforce training program and start a career.
We are asking much more than that.
In psychologist Abraham Maslow’s terminology, we are asking our trainees to self-actualize–to build a career that speaks to who they are, what they excel at, and what they want to see in the world. Maslow will tell you that the preconditions for this are vital. To achieve this, a person needs to be functioning physiologically (be basically healthy), feel safe, feel love and belonging, and have esteem in the eyes of self and others.
We are asking this level of achievement in a world where health care access is still not a given in most hourly jobs and access to affordable fresh food is still remote; where an unacceptable proportion of young people will witness or be a victim of domestic, neighborhood or police violence; where loving relationships can be quickly interrupted by the criminal justice system or strained by poverty; and where the loudest message they hear from society is that “this is not for you.” We ask them to believe that they can eventually reach the top in an industry that promotes white workers at double the rate of black workers.
We ask a young person to invest four months in a full-time training program instead of working. We ask them to arrive at work on time and be consistent despite relentless challenges that undermine their safety, security, and belonging. We ask them to bring a $14/hr attitude to a $9/hr job. We ask them to pursue opportunities to increase their knowledge and skill set, to seek further education. We ask them to lead and mentor others, to involve themselves in their community, and to make a better world.
What we are asking may seem impossible. It’s not–but it is hard. But we ask any way. And every day, our trainees walk through the door and put one foot in front of the other, giving us answers that surprise and inspire us. And when they come back through our doors as alumni, building their careers, they amaze us with their determination, resourcefulness, and generosity.
So thank you. Thank you for joining us in making the impossible less so. Thank you for supporting Liberty’s Kitchen.
— Posted by Harry Schnur