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Enrique: A Bracken's Kitchen & KidWorks success story

When now 19-year-old Enrique Vega was about to graduate from high school in Spring 2022, he was carefully considering three potential career paths: forensic scientist, history teacher or bioengineer.

But there was a problem. Enrique realized he didn’t have a true passion for any of them. Enrique’s real longing was for a career in culinary arts......

That love of food and cooking began in his early years when mother, Esmeralda, started showing him the way around a kitchen.

But Enrique started to doubt his career choice when saw his friends preparing to go off to colleges and universities. He also didn’t want to disappoint his high school counselors, who were helping him decide his future.

Those were very difficult months for Enrique, who found himself experiencing self-doubt and uncertainty. It had been several years since Enrique had been enrolled in KidWorks but he had fond memories of seventh and eighth grade, where he participated in summer and afterschool programs. But KidWorks had not forgotten about Enrique.

His older brother, Cristian, volunteers at KidWorks, where the staff regularly asked about Enrique. Gone but not forgotten was how his former teachers Rachel Cervantes (now our Volunteer Coordinator) and Jacky Hernandez (now our Program Administration Lead) looked at it.

“I learned from my brother that Rachel and Jacky still really cared about me,” Enrique said, “I member them both as warm teachers with a great sense of humor.”

It wasn’t long before Brenda Trujillo Sanchez, our College & Career Manager, heard about Enrique’s culinary arts career aspirations.

She began urging Enrique to apply at Bracken’s Kitchen, an Orange County non-profit focused on feeding the hungry, including prepping meals for KidWorks’ families during the COVID 19 pandemic; they also offer a culinary training program to the community.

Enrique resisted. Brenda persisted...



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