Nini and Grant Associates transcript

Nyenpu Kamara: My name is Nyenpu Kamara. I'm a former student of the culinary job training program here at DC Central Kitchen, and I'm proud to be a new member of this team and the DC Central Kitchen family. The pandemic was a trying time. I lost my job and I was unemployed trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go in my career pathway. Grant Associates came in to help. It was one of the best decision that I've ever made. When I first got connected with Grant Associates, Candace listened to me and I told her where I was, that I wanted to go back to school, and that's why she sent me to Andree.

Andree: My name is Andree Martin-Reed. I'm the educational occupational trainer here at Grant Washington DC TANF program where I assist customers in enrolling in school, helping them with their community needs, also assisting them with childcare and other additional services that are needed. I met Nini through her being referred to us from DHS. I gave her a call one day. She was in a little distress and I just wanted to have a conversation with her to see how she was doing.

Nyenpu Kamara: But she was very encouraging. It was just immediately, what are your barriers? What do we need? How can we do this?

Andree: She informed me of some things that she was going through, and the first thing I wanted to do was make sure that we address her barriers before she moved on to any changes in employment.

Nyenpu Kamara: And she literally held my hand through every process and step.

Andree: So I started talking to her about what was her passion?

Nyenpu Kamara: I'm really good at cooking. Anything I do with my hands, I'm really good with it.

Andree: She called me one day and she said, "You know, I think I want to take the leap and try to go into culinary arts." And I told her about the process at DC Central Kitchen. We did the application process and everything, and she got picked and she was so happy. And I was a happy for her too because I know this was going to be a huge change for her life.

Nyenpu Kamara: The culinary job training program, you think you're learning how to cook and you're just going to learn how to cook, but really it helps you determine who you are.

Mikeya Kirksey: So part of our program is to start off with a three-day trial, so they're in the kitchen, they're working without chefs, they're doing food for the community and everything like that. Nini not only just learned what she needed to do, but she took in the stories of where this food was going and why was it important for us to do it.

Nyenpu Kamara: Graduating the class was very rewarding, not only to have made it through, but I made it through with the highest GPA. The look on my son's face when I was called up for highest GPA was amazing. I'm glad that he was able to see the outcome of hard work.

Now I work with DC Central Kitchen. I'm glad to be able to graduate and do what I love and at the same time be able to contribute to my community and to be part of a team that is about the community and trying to break barriers.