Chakela’s Story

Compassion Today. Wholeness Tomorrow.

Just 3 years ago, Chakela’s life wasn’t where she wanted it to be. Living with her mom and working at Burger King, her future wasn’t clear. She heard Urban Ministry was looking for young people in the community for WE Work, Urban Ministry’s Workforce and Life Skills program. She quickly called to ask for an interview, and soon enough she was hired at the WE Café! She loved to cook, but her first day at WE Café was hectic. She quickly began to learn new things and challenged herself to take on even more work in the kitchen from prepping ingredients, cooking, and creating healthy foods which is what makes the WE Café so special.

Healing and wholeness can be found through work.

As she gained experience, Chakela found that she loved serving the people who came through the café and making them smile. Chakela especially loved preparing and serving healthy snacks for We Learn, the after-school program at Urban Ministry. “I liked getting to know what foods the kids liked and didn’t like, and to hear the highs and lows of their day.”

Showing compassion and loving all people are our most important callings.

Chakela’s progress is ongoing. During the course of her work for WE Café, the chefs included her on shopping trips and events at Whole Foods Market. She loved the atmosphere of Whole Foods and decided she would apply for a job there. She was called in for an interview almost immediately, and on the strength of her resume due to her excellent work at WE Café, she was hired right away to work in the food prep area of Whole Foods. “I was crying when the human resources person said I had the job…Is this for real?” Now working at both WE Café and Whole Foods, she loves to bring ideas from one kitchen to the other as she challenges herself to learn new skills.

Chakela cried again when she found out that Amazon bought Whole Foods and that her pay would go up to $15 an hour! She hopes one day to become a manager and to continue to grow in her education and cooking skills. Chakela is in awe of the support she has received from the Urban Ministry.

The Life Skills classes offered to interns were helpful to her, especially in the area of financial literacy and budgeting. 

Jeff Bowman of WE Care helped her move into her own place to live through the support services at Urban Ministry. Chakela says she thanks God every day for Urban Ministry. “Without Urban Ministry, I don’t know where I’d be. Before I worked here there was too much, just way too much going on in my life. Since I’ve worked here, I’ve got my life back.” Now that she has her own apartment and car, she hopes to continue her education. “I’ve learned a lot of respect; I was grouchy and had an attitude when I came here. Now, I’m more sociable.”

You can help make a difference too.

“Serving the people [is my favorite part about Urban Ministry]! I love making them smile and feel better. You never know what someone has been through before they walk in the door. I’ll work at Urban Ministry as long as I can, because of what we do here for the community.”

There is nothing more powerful than seeing a young person find healing and wholeness through God’s love and the recognition of their own talents and strengths.