Cooking for her life

Sophie_thumbWhen Sophie’s mom was angry at the world, it was Sophie who would suffer. Her mom was overwhelmed and alone with six kids. They were all boys except Sophie, so her mom would be especially hard on her.

Sophie would escape the chaos around her by keeping to herself and listening to her music, but most days her mother would wrench her out of her solitude by yelling and berating her.

Sophie began to lean on her friends for comfort and advice. They introduced her to drugs and alcohol, which took the edge off of her pain, but it was not long before she was caught in a downward spiral.

“I had a bad addiction and I was just so stressed,” Sophie shares. “My mom said she was tired of my drama and she thought I was just doing it for attention, so she kicked me out.”

When Sophie came to Covenant House, she was struggling with anxiety and depression. She was hospitalized numerous times for seizures and other health issues. Her life was becoming too painful to bear and she began to fantasize about ending it.

A community formed around Sophie at Covenant House that gave her the kind of care and compassion she did not get from her large but fragmented family. She received a lot of support from our Health Clinic nurses and counsellors, as well as the workers in our crisis shelter.

When Sophie’s workers told her about our culinary arts program, Cooking for Life, which prepares youth for a career in the hospitality industry, she applied immediately. Growing up, she remembered that cooking was always celebrated in her extended family. “I come from a family of chefs and it’s always something I liked to do,” she explains.

For Sophie, cooking was a perfect fit. Not only did she pick up the skills quickly in our teaching kitchen, but she rediscovered her outgoing personality. With her Cooking for Life classmates, she became a confident leader in the kitchen, and the first to crack a joke.

After a successful job placement at a busy local pub, Sophie landed her dream job working in stadiums for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). She continues to work there. “MLSE is the best job I’ve ever had. Not only because you can watch the games, but because I’m learning from chefs who have years of experience.” The breakneck pace appeals to her high-energy personality. “You have thousands of fans who just want their chicken fingers. I call out orders, work the deep fryer or steamer, do prep, wraps…you name it,” she says. She is working at smaller stadiums, where all the new hires start, but her goal is to moving up to the “big show”—the Air Canada Centre.

With the help of our staff, Sophie found a good apartment. She also met a supportive boyfriend and she is proud to be three years sober. She is especially motivated to be a good example to her youngest brother and her nieces and nephews who she connects with regularly.

Sophie is attending the culinary skills program at Humber College and she is enjoying the challenge. “All that goes into something as simple as a cake is shocking. I feel like my brain is a dictionary!” she says.

Sophie also made a point of connecting with some of her Cooking for Life classmates to tell them about Humber. Thanks to her leadership, two other Covenant House alumni are attending the college program.

“Ever since being in Covenant House, my life has changed a lot,” Sophie shares. “Staff are very supportive. Covenant House helped me get a job, get my own place, and be a healthier, better person.”

Sophie has regained her appreciation for life thanks to the people who have invested in her. “I feel like I am important enough to be in this world. Why should I end my life when I have so many people caring about me?”

One thought on “Cooking for her life

  1. I’m glad to see that so many troubled youths are turning their lives around through the efforts provided by your organization. Covenant House is a great safety net for so many young people & I’m glad that I can contribute to the cause even though it’s only a small contribution on my part. Keep up the good work!

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