Taylore Blanton, like so many other high school graduates, was not sure what he wanted to do after he graduated.  He was the first in his family to complete high school and while he wanted to go to college, he knew his family could not afford it.   As luck would have it, Taylore ran into one of our social enterprise staff, Kia Eden, and they struck up a conversation about his next steps in life.  “I knew Taylore from Monroe High School and every time I saw him, he would always have a smile on his face.  It seemed like nothing could get him down! I told him how proud I was of him graduating and wondered what he was going to do next.  He told me if he could afford college he would go to a culinary arts school. I immediately started telling him about our Kindred Kitchen training program. We discussed how he could learn the skills he wanted while earning a little income and possibly go on to work in our café. I told him I would do whatever I could to get him to and from the program so that he could have a chance at his dream and boy did he nail it!”

After six weeks of training and many hours of working in the retail kitchen, Taylore graduated from the Kindred Kitchen culinary training program in February of 2021.  He loved the program and especially his trainer Jon Zintel.  He especially enjoyed learning how to make food from scratch including soups, sauces, cookies, and chicken marinade.  “I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in the culinary arts.  Everyone is so respectful, and very positive. Jon is a great trainer and really communicated with me a lot.  Even though I graduated, I miss being there.”

Taylore lives with his family in Monroe at the Housing Hope Family Village.  It is a supportive environment for families with limited means and he appreciates the quality living space they have there.  He dreams about what is next for him and often thinks about owning his own restaurant or maybe even acting in a movie.

Kia reinforced how critical the HopeWorks social enterprises and their mission are to people in need.  “Programs like Kindred Kitchen, and the staff that work there, can help people get set up for success and get them on their way to making their dreams come true.  I have never been prouder of a human in my whole life then I am of Taylore!”

Photo of a young man in an apron standing outside a cafe next to a planter box.