Work Options for Women graduate Barile Deeyaa’s warm smile lights up the room. It’s clear by her smile alone why her co-workers at Highline Academy Charter School speak of her glowingly and why she has such a positive rapport with the schoolchildren that she serves. In addition to her optimistic outlook on life, Barile’s hard-working ethic and training from the WOW program have helped her realize her abilities in the food service industry.
Barile is an immigrant from Nigeria and first came to the United States with her husband and three children about four years ago. They settled in Tennessee, where Barile says life was difficult. She couldn’t find any work and didn’t feel that the community was inclusive to new people. When she and her husband saw a TV advertisement about the abundance of jobs in Denver, they decided to make the move in search of a better life.
When they moved to Denver, they needed financial support but didn’t qualify for aid until they had lived in Denver for a year. A Catholic charity told Barile about Work Options for Women and she thought, “I can do that. Let me try.” She had always liked to cook, but she didn’t have any formal experience. Now, through the intensive training of the WOW program, she feels confident in her abilities and thinks that she will be able to progress in her career.
After completing the WOW program in August of 2011, she found a job within a couple of months. In the early morning, she works at Thomas Jefferson High School preparing hundreds of meals that get distributed to other local schools. She then heads to Highline Academy Charter School to serve the meals at lunchtime. She loves her job and truly enjoys working in the school environment. “The kids will make you laugh every single day,” she said.
When asked the most important thing that she learned from the WOW program, she said without hesitation, “Discipline. Without it, you cannot succeed.” She explained that it’s not so easy at first. It was difficult to persevere and show up each and every day, and not be affected by other people’s negative attitudes. “You have to make something out of every single day,” she said, “because every day is the perfect opportunity to learn.” Even for the students that decide mid-way through the program that a cooking career is not for them, she still recommends that they finish. “WOW will give you that extra boost even if you decide you don’t want to work in a kitchen. It will give you the inner strength you need.”
Now that Barile is trained in cooking and has been working more with food, she’s seasoned in different types of cuisines. She had never made pizza before she started the program, and now it’s her favorite food to make. She also regularly makes burritos for her family, who love Mexican food. She still makes Nigerian staples, too, like rice with chicken, vegetable soup, okra, yams and plantains.
Her ambitions for the future include obtaining more culinary training and perhaps even open up a restaurant of her own someday. She would like to serve multicultural cuisine to represent her diverse experience with lots of different types of food.
Barile is an admirable example of the great outcomes of determination, positive attitude, and facing every day with a big smile. WOW is proud of her accomplishments and hopes for a continued bright future for her and her family.