Kenny participated in Thrive DC’s Real Job Opportunity Training Program, known as “Real Opps.” This 18-week program helps individuals facing barriers to employment. The program included a six-week training with Chef Terrence Brown focused on soft skills and hands-on culinary practice, followed by a 12-week internship at a local restaurant. At the end of the course, students test for a food handler’s license of ServSafe certification. The program also provides Kenny with a Metro card to cover transportation.

Kenny has been at Thrive DC for a year and credits the program with helping him secure a job. “After you finish your training, they help you find potential employment opportunities, they help you prep for interviews and then they help you get to work as well with the metro card,” he says. For Kenny, this included hands-on experience with cooking and meal prep, which helped him secure a job at a local cafe where he works on the line.

In addition, Kenny helps at Thrive DC before and after his shifts at Panera; whenever he has free time. At Thrive DC, Kenny puts togethers bags of groceries and makes breakfast, which varies between eggs, sausage, oatmeal, grits, pancakes, and chicken and waffles.

Balancing multiple responsibilities may be a burden for some people, but Kenny is happy to be able to take on different tasks during this challenging time. He has gained many new skills, including learning how to handle food and communicate with different people, which have led to new opportunities.

“I learned a lot of hands-on skills, but also other skills as well. I learned how to communicate with others and best represent myself in a job interview,” he notes.

Kenny also shares information about Thrive DC with others who he thinks could benefit from the organization’s services. We will share updates on Kenny’s progress and work in future features.