Neil was battling the all-too-common issues of substance abuse and mental health in our county. Struggling to find the support he needed, Neil found himself without a place to call home. In the midst of this dire circumstance, Neil learned about a nearby place known as Loaves and Fishes—a place where he could get a hot meal and groceries daily, no questions asked. It was the lifeline Neil needed to embark on a journey towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
For five years, Neil made his daily pilgrimage to Loaves and Fishes. Then, one day, while he was there, he overheard someone discussing a remarkable opportunity: the free culinary program. Neil had once attempted culinary school but found the large classrooms and lack of individual attention to be insurmountable obstacles. The Loaves and Fishes’ 12-week Culinary Arts Training Program, however, offered precisely what he needed, and at no cost to him. Neil graduated from the program and now dedicates his free time to giving back to the community by volunteering at our Martinez dining room.
When asked about his reasons for volunteering, Neil shared, “The staff at Loaves and Fishes played a pivotal role in getting my life back on track. Volunteering is time well spent, and if you’re going through tough times, Loaves and Fishes is here to lend a helping hand. I do it because I want to extend my hand to help others, just as it was extended to me.”