Everyone at St. Mary’s wishes to congratulate our own Kate Thoene – and the Phoenix Business Journal for their excellent taste – as the director of the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen program was honored as one of the Valley’s “40 Under 40” class 2012.
Everyone who comes into contact with St. Mary’s whirling dervish of energy would agree that Kate has guided Community Kitchen with incredible energy and passion and made it a labor of love that is a source of pride not only to the Food Bank but the Valley as well.
The hundreds of students, graduates — and in the process, friends – Kate has touched during her tenure have resulted in lives repaired, transformed and outright saved. Those struggling for direction and, in some cases, survival have found Kate and her dynamic team’s combination of tough love and a helping hand to be the navigation point for a new start.
If students can complete a rigorous 16-week training program that is as much about life skills outside the kitchen as knife skills within, a steady job and the means to keep it await on the other side. A Community Kitchen graduation ceremony is not to be missed and drips with the heart-tugging, real-life battles of those who, against all odds, wrestle their own fears and demons into submission and emerge with the means to move forward and exhibit new-found pride in themselves.
It’s a special program. It requires special people to execute its mission. And it demands an inventive, visionary force of nature to guide it. Congratulations, Kate.