Meghan, Makayla, Preston, Jackson, Nikole, Courtney and Abbey making history - March 23, 2017!
Ever since Sarah and I founded The Torch and Torch 180, we have experienced a multitude of surreal moments. Those are the moments that take on a dreamlike quality and transport us from this earth and the reality of how tough life sometimes is to a place of joy and excitement with insights to how life could be. The surreal experiences we have had have all stemmed from a similar beginning. One of us said something like, "I wonder if we could...". And those words were followed by a lot of prayer and action and even sometimes, doubt, but we always just kept moving forward. And sometimes, like this past week, it wasn't until we were past the work and the stress and the struggles of making things happen that we actually stopped and caught our breath and were overwhelmed with the surreal nature of what just happened.
This moment actually began with some dreaming and a conversation last spring with a teacher at Howell High School, Carolyn Bishop, who wanted to know if it would be possible for her Jet 2 class to open and run a sandwich shop serving staff and students at the high school. Sarah and I didn't know if it would be possible or not, but we started to dream and to plan and we entered into an agreement with Carolyn that we would come to her class and work with the students, teaching them kitchen safety and basic culinary skills - AND employability soft skills and how to run a business.
And there were times when we looked at each other and said, "Is this going to work?" To our knowledge, nobody has done this before with a group of high school students. But we believed, even though it was difficult sometimes, that the students COULD learn how to do it. We believed they COULD overcome their own doubts and fears. We believed they COULD do it. We didn't always know the "how" part, but we decided that could be figured out. So we trained, and consulted, and prayed and worked to get the students ready.
Then, Wednesday, March 22, Howell High School's Jet 2 class opened "The Sandwich Club" to the staff. It was official and real - and the staff responded with amazing support. I have to say, if you are perhaps thinking something like: making sandwiches is easy. Please allow me to correct you. It's not. In fact there really isn't anything about working in a commercial kitchen that is easy. It makes me crazy when people think a dish washing job, for example, is easy. That is very wrong thinking. It is not easy to properly wash dishes. I would eat from dishes my students washed over those most other people wash any day, because people often have unsanitary methods when they wash dishes. And when you break down running a sandwich shop into all the steps and moving parts that have to flow together - it can appear daunting. So, just know, making sandwiches for a shop is NOT easy. But this blog is not about that soap box, so I will step down.
This blog about the feeling of amazement, joy and hope that flooded my soul Thursday evening when I finally had a moment to sit down and reflect on the two days The Sandwich Club students made history at Howell High School. In the moment, while the shop was open for business, I felt intense and involved and, sometimes, stressed. But, when I relive those hours in my memory, they feel surreal. I'm so deeply proud of the students who stepped up and took control of their kitchen, who solved what seemed like a million problems, who set aside their personal differences, and overcame obstacles their disabilities could have potentially given them, and they worked hard - as a TEAM - and they did it.
They did it!
Sarah and I are cogs in the wheels with these students. We believe they can do these things - and then they show us they can, and I don't even know why it feels surreal, because I really do believe in the students. But I do know one thing. Moments like these keep us working and praying and planning and moving forward - and saying, "I wonder if we could...".
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