Born and raised in Edmonton, Kris’s childhood was filled with poverty and instability. By the time he was a teen he found himself dealing with a range of challenges that made it hard to imagine a better future.
“It was really challenging to find a job – I dealt with a lot of racism where people judged me because of the colour of my skin,” he explains. “But when I came to Kids in the Hall no one cared about that. They just care about what you are going to do in the future, and they set you up for success.”
“Kris was living with a group of people in a hotel just before he started in the program,” explains Jackie Parks, a youth worker with e4c. “He was transitioning in and out of a lot of places, without a lot of stability.”
Now living with family, Kris’ situation is already more stable and he’s demonstrated an amazing knack for working in the kitchen. “He’s so confident – he’s kind of a rock star in the kitchen,” Jackie says. “He knows his way around the line and knows what to do at every station. You can tell he’s really comfortable in the kitchen.”
Kris has always enjoyed cooking – in fact he counts Hell’s Kitchen as one of his favourite shows. Having a chance to hone his skills and develop new ones while at Kids in the Hall has helped him begin planning for the future. “You can come here with no experience and leave with a bunch,” he explains. Once he’s completed the program, Kris plans to continue in the food service industry with the hope of someday opening his own restaurant.
His experience at Kids in the Hall has also renewed his faith in people. “Everyone here is willing to talk and help out,” he marvels. “Even the customers are so friendly and kind.”
For youth workers like Jackie, the chance to witness the transformation kids like Kris experience is a privilege. “I’m so proud and so excited for them. It’s incredible to see who they become when they leave here.”