Taste4Toolbox will bring together some of the best chefs, confections and beverages in the area on March 7. The event will benefit the 306 Foundation and its community program Toolbox4Life.
“I am honored to be involved with Toolbox4life because I greatly respect the work they do in training life skills and providing job opportunities to those less fortunate in our local community,” explains John Rivers, 4Rivers Smokehouse. “I have seen, time after time, the true gift is in the giving. I am humbled and grateful to serve and be a part of Taste4Toolbox again in 2019.”
The evening will offer savories, sweets, wine and beer from purveyors who’ve been partnering with the organization since the event began four years ago. It also features a short program, where the most recent graduates will be introduced to offer guests context and intimacy with Toolbox4Life’s impact in the community.
Toolbox4Life is the outward programming of the 306 Foundation, directed by John Hursh. The mission of the Foundation is to build strong community. Concentrating on the culinary and construction industries, the eight-week classes (offered three times annually) introduce students to a holistic curriculum, involving health and wellness, professional and life/personal skills. Students also work on the job according to the track (culinary or construction) and are paid for their time both in class and on the job site.
“After meeting with, talking to and researching other programs across the country, we wanted to create something meaningful that would be helpful to the Central Florida community and bring different communities and demographics together,” says John Hursh, 306 Foundation president.
Both men and women who apply for the classes are working to leave lives impacted by homelessness, incarceration, mental health issues, domestic violence, trafficking and addiction. Toolbox4Life is a path to continue the healing, and build into the student for a career and life, rather than merely job training.
Even more unique to the model is that the curriculum is entirely volunteer-based. From the professional chef and general contractor, to the yoga instructor and bank executive teaching personal finances, it is the Foundation’s intention to bring people together, to learn from one another where they might not otherwise have the opportunity.
“Once I met Jane and John, heard their story, and the work they are committed to providing to women in need in the Orlando community, I was compelled to share my own story of love and loss that might inspire a stirring of hope and faith that a new life can be had with hard work and commitment,” explains Trina Gregory-Probst, chef/owner Se7bites and another chef participating in Taste4Toolbox again this year. “I am truly grateful and humbled to be a small part of the big picture for the students of the Toolbox4Life program and the 306 Foundation.”
Someone who’s also benefited from being a part of Toolbox4Life is Sharon Baumgartner. She was a student four years ago. “Toolbox4Life saved my life. They took me in when I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going. They gave me direction. You feel the love. You know they are concerned with your wellbeing, your future. I’m now a certified chef and I owe that to Toolbox4Life,” she shares.
“Where there is common ground, there is greater understanding and empathy. We hope our model is a way of contributing to a healthier, stronger Central Florida community,” John adds.
Taste4Toolbox will take place on Thursday, March 7 at All Saints Church in Winter Park. Purchase tickets to the event at taste4toolbox.org.