Maddie finished the WOW program in October 2011 and was hired at Café Options in November 2011.
How did you hear about WOW?
I heard about it from my TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) BDA (Business Development Associate) in May 2011. I had started my GED and still needed to complete some work hours every month. I told him that I had a thing for cooking and he recommended the WOW program. I passed the intake and started a couple of weeks after that.
What was your first impression of WOW?
I was surprised that it existed. I had been in the Denver Human Services building so many times and I had no idea they had a kitchen and cafeteria up there on the 3rd floor.
How has the WOW program changed you?
It changed me a lot. I mean, I have a job now. My kids go to day care. I have something to do every morning. I’m just more responsible.
What’s the biggest thing you learned in the program?
I have way better knife skills and I’m more careful about moving around sharp things. I also know all the names of different kitchen utensils now – six pans, hotel sheets, cylinders, all this stuff. I used to just say, “Hey, pass me that thing over there!”
Personally, I have more self-esteem. I used to be all up in other people’s bubbles. Now I feel confident to do my own a thing and be more respectful of others. I like to keep in mind what’s going on with other people in their lives. I still try to get other people to be happy, to get them to smile, but I’m calmer about it. I can put my child side away now. My kids and my friends still get that side of me though.
Can you tell me about going back to get your GED?
Last year, I was going to high school but just not getting much done. I switched to the GED program and I just passed my science and social studies courses. It works much better for me because it’s only twice a week, and the teachers help us out a lot more. I’m much more of a visual learner and the style of teaching works better for me. I should be completely done by May.
Is it hard to balance life with two children, a full-time job, and GED classes?
Honestly, it’s not that bad. WOW set me up with CCAP (Child Care Assistance Program) that provides day care and they can even pick up my kids and drop them off. It’s really not hard to balance. You just can’t think about it too hard. You set your mind to something and you do it. I work because it’s just something that I have to do for myself and my kids.
What are three words to describe yourself?
Friendly, happy…and, I don’t know, let’s ask my co-workers. <They contribute helpful, ambitious!” >
What advice would you give to new students in the WOW program?
Take everything with a grain of salt and don’t take anything personally. Everything is worth it in the end and you’ve just got to look at the big picture, but there will be hard days because you’re learning and changing your whole life around.
What’s your favorite dish to make?
Well, at home, it’s my famous Snickers Cake! I made it off the top of my head one day, and now I make it every year for my friend’s birthday. It’s basically a vanilla cake with a bottom layer of Snickers Bars…it’s so good!
At Café Options, I have to say I like to make the sandwiches, especially the Caprese. It’s just so beautiful with all the colors of the tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.
What’s next for you?
I’m thinking of taking more advanced culinary classes at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. Maybe become a sous chef!