When Mike lost his job, he struggled to make ends meet. Depressed and hopeless, this former addict made a decision to pursue a new career and change the course of his life. Ve’ahavta was Mike’s safety net.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Mike, a champion axe-thrower and fulltime shift manager at an axe- and knife-throwing range, had his company shut down due to Covid-19. “The whole industry just got gutted by the pandemic,” says Mike, mournfully.

He took on odd jobs, but quickly discovered that it wasn’t enough to make ends meet. Depressed and hopeless, he feared slipping into old unhealthy habits, abusing alcohol and marijuana. “It’s been a very long road for me,” he explains. “I’ve had a lifetime struggle with mental health and addiction.”

Instead of going down that road, Mike picked himself up and took the advice of his vocational agency advisor, and signed up for Ve’ahavta’s internship program, Recipe for Success. “I had been eating a lot of fast food, and I wanted to learn how to manage a food budget and start cooking at home,” he says.

Mike did not anticipate that through the program he would discover a new passion and talent for cooking. “I had no kitchen experience,” he says, “and this was just… amazing. It lit a passion inside me that I didn’t know I had!”

Throughout the course of the four-month program, Mike learned and received certification in commercial kitchen skills. He also discovered something remarkable about the impact of his work.

“I never thought that knowing where my food was going would impact me so deeply,” he says, recalling a time when one of Ve’ahavta’s outreach workers commented that his garlic roasted vegetables had been a huge hit on the outreach van the night before. “Something as simple as eating – something I do multiple times a day and give no thought to – was giving others comfort. My food was having an impact. Something that I was doing, really mattered.”

After his internship came to end, Mike applied to the culinary school at George Brown College and was accepted. He will begin studying there this coming academic year. “I am beyond excited,” says Mike. “I never would have gotten here without Ve’ahavta. This organization and the people behind it have brought the most formative positive change to my life.”

Says Mike, when he finishes school, he dreams of working in the catering industry. “Thanks to my experience at Ve’ahavta, I gained a real appreciation for cooking in large volumes,” he says. “I’m excited to cook and to be part of weddings and graduations – people’s biggest life celebrations. That would be my dream job.” “Thank you, Ve’ahavta, for being my safety net!”

*Mike’s name and photo have been changed to protect his identity

Be a safety net

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