Katie is always working to build a better life for her two sons. After her divorce, Katie left her job as a dog groomer at a large pet store chain and started her own mobile dog grooming business so she could take care of her young sons.
“Since the split, they’ve needed a lot of extra attention, so I had to give that to them,” she says. “No matter what circumstances we’re in, I’m not going to leave them in a situation where they feel helpless.”
Although Katie says she has found fulfillment in owning her own business and spending more time with her sons, she still struggles to pay the bills.
“I don’t make nearly as much money as I used to,” she says. “What I do make, goes to pay all of my bills. Since it’s an individually owned service, I have work expenses that come out of the money that I make.”
To stretch her budget, Katie turns to St. Mary’s. The emergency food boxes she receives from St. Mary’s allows her to save money to buy clothes and shoes for her growing sons.
“Every other month they grow two inches!” she laughs.
Katie’s business began to grow and it seemed as if her financial circumstances were starting to improve, until she got two kidney infections.
While recovering from her illnesses, Katie realized she needed a fresh start. She heard about St. Mary’s Community Kitchen and jumped at the chance to become a student.
“I went over to the community kitchen and signed up right away,” she said. “I know that I’m qualified to complete the program. I need to do this.”
St. Mary’s Community Kitchen is a 16- week life skills and food service training program that prepares students to work in the food industry. In addition to training, each student receives job-placement assistance and support following graduation.
Katie is hopeful that the program will help her start a new long-term career in the food industry after 12 years as a dog groomer. By enrolling in Community Kitchen, Katie hopes she will set a positive example for her sons and teach them that, “there’s always an opportunity knocking.”
“I hope that someday maybe someone will say ‘no matter what she went through, she still didn’t give up,’” she says.
Despite the challenges she’s faced, Katie is optimistic for the future and thankful for the chance to learn and grow as part of the Community Kitchen.
“I’m glad that there’s people out there that are willing to reach out and help,” she says. “They’re willing to accept that some people just need a little extra help.”