Our very own Chef Ronney Jacob is an example of a true success story. We recently sat down with Chef Ronney for a Q & A to learn about his journey from soup kitchen client to becoming a soup kitchen employee — and fulfilling his lifelong dream of working as a chef.
Hi, Ronney. Congratulations on the new job, as our official soup kitchen chef! We’d love to hear, in your own words, about your experience with Franciscan Charities.
When did you first become involved with the soup kitchen?
There was a time in my life when I was part of the cooking staff at a bar/kitchen. The kitchen part closed down and I found myself out of work. At the time, I had a wife and three step-daughters to help take care of. After losing my job, my life continued to go downhill. I was out walking the streets every day looking for work, but couldn’t find anything. I heard someone talking about St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen, and one day I just found it. I started going there for an occasional meal. Then I started going regularly. Eventually, I started volunteering at the soup kitchen. I liked going to the soup kitchen because it kept me from doing other stupid stuff on the street.
How did you go from being a client of Franciscan Charities to an employee?
I met Brother Paul at the soup kitchen and he said he would try to help me find work. I kept knocking on Brother Paul’s door, hoping he would come up with something for me. Finally I started moving furniture for Brother Paul. Around that time, Franciscan Enterprises started and Brother Paul had some construction work for me. I had never worked in construction before, but I started working at Franciscan Enterprises and slowly learned different skills.
Brother Paul told me I was reliable and trustworthy. He knew I used to work in a kitchen, so he gave me the chance to cook in the soup kitchen on Saturdays when they needed help. Chef Jon trained me on the basics. I liked working with the clients and the volunteers. And I love to cook.
Brother Paul knew it was my dream to become a chef. When Chef Jon got promoted, all of my hard work paid off and I was hired.
What are some of the things you love to cook for the clients?
I love Italian food and I want to do more Italian cooking in the soup kitchen. I’ve made eggplant parmesan on a smaller scale and I am looking forward to trying to make it for the soup kitchen some day.
Is there anything you’d like to tell clients that are still struggling to get on their feet?
My advice to other clients trying to make a change is to keep your head up and keep trying because you deserve it. Stay on the right path and with the right state of mind. The Lord will help you because he sees you trying to help yourself.
What does working for Franciscan Charities mean to you?
Franciscan Charities gave me a chance. That chance led to big changes in my life. I have twelve grandchildren that spend a lot of time with me on the weekends and now I can feel good about being a good example of hard work to them.
Thank you, Ronney. We are truly proud of your accomplishments and hard work.
We are so happy you are a part of our team!
To learn more about Chef Ronney’s journey, click HERE to view a short film produced two years ago.