In the span of one year, Allen went from being a drug-addicted homeless person on the streets of the Bronx, to being a sous-chef with a two-bedroom apartment. Clean and sober and beaming with pride, Allen exemplifies the human potential to succeed, even from the most hopeless of situations, when provided with the right resources.
“The Culinary Arts Program gave me self-esteem. It made me realize that I could do something with my life,” said Allen. “Before the program, I looked at things negatively. Now I look at them positively. The course gave me hope.”
In the wake of his mother’s death, Allen developed a drug addiction. His life spun out of control and he lost his home.
A desperate phone call to a homeless hotline eventually led Allen to the HELP Supportive Employment Center, a clean and sober residential facility which emphasizes employment training and placement. At HELP USA Allen received the support that he needed to pursue a career in the Culinary Arts field.
“I’ve always wanted to cook but I never had the space to do it,” said Allen. “In the program, I learned about food protection and how to clean and prepare food, which I didn’t know beforehand, and which is crucial,” he continued.
Today Allen works as a sous-chef for Flick International, a corporate dining firm that has accounts with many of New York City’s schools. He now has a two-bedroom apartment in Riverdale to call home.
“My job is good for now, but I’d like to go further,” said Allen. “Eventually, I’d like to be an executive chef at a restaurant like the Marriot in Manhattan.”