After having battled with addiction and being in and out of various treatment centers, Arlyss found herself at the Arapahoe House. While living at the Arapahoe House Treatment Center, she was able to get her addiction under control and begin to turn her life around. She heard about the WOW program through one of her counselors at Arapahoe House and decided that she was ready to make a big change. Arlyss says, “I was left single with 2 babies and I knew it was time to get stable and provide for my kids.”
Arlyss joined the WOW program in July. Since she had previous culinary experience she moved quickly through the program, excelling in the kitchen and quickly becoming the confidant of other WOW students who were less experienced and perhaps a bit more timid. Arlyss proved to be a natural-born leader, someone who students would gravitate towards in class. When asked what advice she would give to students, Arlyss says, “My advice to everyone in life is never give up, no matter what, not even for one day.”
She did, however, struggle a bit when it came to her attitude. In fact, Chef Julie had to give Arlyss a bit of a reality check when she told her, “You may be experienced but you’re not better than anyone else.” This was a humbling moment for Arlyss, and one which she claims caused her to change her attitude. She says she is grateful to Chef Julie for caring enough to help her get her attitude under control and says, “I learned to take constructive criticism.”
After flying through the program in only 4 weeks, Arlyss obtained an internship at Café Options. That internship was short-lived though, as she was hired on as a full-time employee only 2 weeks later! Arlyss loves her job and is so grateful to Work Options for Women. “I would not be where I am now without the WOW program,” Arlyss says.
Arlyss claims that WOW helped her turn her life around. She now has full custody of her 3 children. When asked what she is most proud of, Arlyss responds, “I am most proud of being able to provide for my family. I have a beautiful apartment, the kids sleep on clean sheets and always have clean clothes… my kids never do without.”
When asked what was the most valuable lesson or skill she learned at WOW, Arlyss says, “Even though you are a woman you are still able to provide for your family and anyone else. Even being a single mom I do more for my kids than my ex ever did for them. The respect that I have given myself is huge. It changed my attitude.”
Arlyss is still happily employed at Café Options. She is doing very well and has even decided to give back to one of the programs that helped her through a rough patch by donating her time to teaching cooking classes to women at the Arapahoe House. This should be good practice for Arlyss since she one day plans on opening her own restaurant, which she describes as “Mexican, soul food, soups, salads… just a variety.”
Looking back on her WOW experience, Arlyss says, “It gave me a lot of self-respect back and I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about fraternization, how to be respectful in a workplace so other people can respect you back, and how to be professional.”
We are so proud of Arlyss and wish her the best of luck in all her endeavors.