I used to think I was stuck, but the Mission gave me the spark of hope I needed to change my life.

I want to be that beginning.

Miguel’s grief and guilt were too much to bear when his brother committed suicide, so he turned to drugs to numb the pain. Miguel was just 17. This was the beginning of a 13-year struggle with addiction that cost him jobs and relationships and eventually left him homeless, sleeping under a bridge.  

Then one night during a rainstorm, Miguel’s tent sprang a leak, soaking him and his belongings. “I was tearing my tent apart looking for my drugs with no care that I was hungry or wet or cold, and suddenly I said, ‘How did my life come to this?’”  

The next day, he entered our New Life Fellowship program, where he found nutritious food and a warm bed. “After my first meal, it dawned on me that I wasn’t hungry anymore, and I could go to bed and be safe.”  

Miguel entered the Culinary Arts Program last July, “I want to go to college for a degree in either business management or hospitality, but I want to start slow, work in a restaurant and gain some experience, and eventually open up my own place.” 

“I used to think I was stuck, but the Mission gave me the spark of hope I needed to change my life.”


Miguel with fellow student Michelle.

The Culinary Skills Fundamental Program is a 6-month apprenticeship with 1,000 hours of on-the-job training. This program is meant to help New Life Fellowship (NLF) program participants expand their vocational horizon as an opportunity to earn careers in the food service industry. 

“For me, the food service industry has been such a blessing, and I want to provide that to other people,” Walter, UGM’s Food Service Manager explained.  “You can do anything you want in the food service industry if you put your mind to it, and I want to be that beginning.”  

By providing culinary training as a part of the NLF work therapy, program participants will receive knowledge and skills that can be foundational for a future career. 

You can take part in providing culinary training to people like Miguel. Give today to the education fund at ugmsalem.org/donate to help change the face of homelessness one story at a time. 

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