Jhojans immigrated with his family from Colombia. “We came to America for a better future,” he says.
His family assimilated into their new community, volunteering at their church and local soup kitchen. But they struggled too. Jhojans’ pursuit of the American dream was derailed by a substance use disorder and mental illness.
After an ankle injury, Jhojans became addicted to pain medication and started using heroin. His marriage fell apart and he was unable to maintain a job. He tried rehab many times, but his recoveries were short-lived.
Jhojans finally found lasting sobriety in a therapeutic community in Brooklyn, but to truly get his life back on track, he knew he needed a career path. That’s when he came to Project Renewal’s Culinary Arts Training Program (CATP).
Today, Jhojans is thriving in CATP, which prepares unemployed, homeless, and at-risk New Yorkers for careers in the culinary industry. Through classroom training, internships, and employment services, the program places 80% of graduates in jobs—nearly twice the national average for similar programs.
With newfound confidence and progress toward a career, Jhojans obtained his GED and has been sober for a full year for the first time in decades. He will soon begin his CATP internship at the dining facility of a New York City law firm.
“I love making people smile with my food. It gives me so much joy,” says Jhojans.
Nearly a third of immigrant worker earn less than $25,000 a year, which is why it’s crucial that immigrants have access to programs like CATP, whose graduates earn a starting wage of $13.50 per hour. Unfortunately, due to hateful rhetoric and harmful policy proposals, immigrants are increasingly afraid of accessing services. To support CATP and other Project Renewal programs that help vulnerable immigrants, click HERE.