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Michael’s Story

“Growing Home has helped me get back motivated, doing something to come to everyday to look forward to. You know when you finished your day, you feel good about yourself – like, ‘I did something with this day.’ ”

I come from food service with a 12 year background.  I used to work on a navy base and I was a supervisor for 4 years at a food service company far out of Chicago.  Management changed up, they changed a lot of things. So I came back and actually my cousin had a hot dog stand. I did it almost until earlier this year. I was doing Uber too. Chicago all the way to Gurnee Mills, Indiana…it’s a lot of driving.  I got tired of driving, the coronavirus came – so all that was on the plate for me to come to Growing Home.

I do a lot of helping my grandmother garden in her backyard – greens, tomatoes, plants, hot peppers – so I felt like Growing Home would be a good program for me to get into. 

I learned various things, about food and how to plant organic plants. Now I know, when my grandma does her garden next year, to do the organic soil.  I’ll plant the seed myself instead of going somewhere to buy the plants – I can save money like that. She’s got some collard greens on the side of the lot but I want to make them rows, rows more for her. 

Growing Home is definitely an uplifting program – they help you out a lot in every area.  I got back into the groove of doing work, out of a lackadaisical state and to more urgency.  It’s like work boot camp, starting at 8:30 in the morning so you have to get up at like 6am and get started with my day. I’m now more motivated, instead of sitting around like a job gonna drop in my lap.  I’m putting in several applications everyday, to where I wasn’t before. 

It’s a great program, I believe everyone can learn something from it as well as pursue a job and get hired. Each and every crew leader I would be with, they would show you the right way. And they let you know, “do it like this.”  I liked that part.  I see the leadership from them that I see in myself. 

Eventually I might want to make it back to food service or want to invest in some real estate, abandoned buildings to fix them up.  I want to advance as far to take a chef class, maybe try to invest in a food truck down the line.  I might even do a garden big enough to sell some organic vegetables or use some of the organic vegetables to cook with the food.

– Michael, 2020 Graduate, Growing Home Employment Training Program



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