Vocational training, whether the result of layoffs, restructuring or personal hardship, is a fact of life for many people these days.
But there is a program where students are using their passion to prepare for jobs in the food industry.
Life's challenges brought Mike Spotts, Maurice Yu-Cutnoe, Daniel Huyck and Bob Baird together as residents at Home Sweet Home Ministries in Bloomington. But despite obstacles their love for the ministry and passion for cooking gained them a spot in the first Culinary Arts Training Academy at Second Presbyterian Church.
"I can put all my energy and my focus into this and I love it," said academy student Daniel Huyck.
"It's sort of like a dream, something I can take back to Peoria cause I'm mostly into health. I'd like to bring this back to Peoria where I can work in the nursing home," said Culinary Arts Student Maurice Yu-Cutnoe.
Tuesday the group is prepping for their biggest event at the church, a dinner for 400 people.
Church Chef Paul Stroup says in just 8 weeks they've taken on quite a bit.
"Their work has gotten a lot of rave reviews and we did a Thanksgiving meal last week for 250. They did really well," he said.
Stroup says the Culinary Arts Academy is modeled after a similar program at the South Side Mission in Peoria.
Next year Home Sweet Home Ministries will kick off a pilot program that will link shelter residents to businesses for internships.
Home Sweet Home Spokesperson Sabrina Burkiewicz says so far four people have been hired for jobs at the agency but they want to collaborate with more businesses to help retrain clients like the aspiring chefs who volunteer in the kitchen.
"I wasn't all that disappointed when I got laid off. I miss the paycheck, but other than that I really didn't miss it," said culinary arts student Mike Spotts.
"I've always cooked all my life and fell in love with doing this type of stuff and got the opportunity to participate in the school," said student Bob Baird.
It's a passion these guys are hoping will gain them future employment.