When Chef Anthony smiles, it’s infectious. And those around him can’t help but smile too. Anthony has been through a lot of darkness in his life, but now he is walking in the light. His smile is proof of how God answered his prayers and guided him through very difficult times.
Anthony, also known as “top chef” at the Mission, came to Sunday Breakfast after losing nearly everything. He worked as a Paralegal in Philadelphia, but his life took a turn when he lost his vision due to diabetes. Without his sight, Anthony’s stable life began to slip away – first his job, then his car, and then his home. He did not know where to turn, he struggled to leave South Philly, the place he had called home for almost all of his life. After visiting several other shelters and feeling uncertain, Anthony came to Sunday Breakfast grasping for a light of hope. He began to come for a meal and stayed for the chapel services. Over time, Anthony built a relationship with the chaplains. He felt a pull to take the next steps and get off of the streets, so he began to help out in the Kitchen at Sunday Breakfast.
Anthony shares how his trials strengthened him, “To get through something, you got to go through something.” After undergoing ten surgeries, Anthony gained partial vision back in one of his eyes and began to see the light.
After helping out in the kitchen for some time, Anthony applied for the Overcomer program at Sunday Breakfast. He was accepted into the program and made radical life change. He learned how to cook, clean, and run the kitchen through the training and supervision of Team Lead, Julio Arroyo. He took his newfound skills a step further and received his ServeSafe certification through Sunday Breakfast. Soon enough, Anthony was preparing and serving meals to the guests at the Mission on his own.
Just before graduation, Anthony decided to pursue an independent life. He left Sunday Breakfast and spent weeks without stable housing. During this time, he felt God pruning the weeds in his life to get back on track. After much prayer, Anthony came back to Sunday Breakfast to volunteer. He began volunteering at the Mission 5 days a week.
“I felt a warm welcome when I came back.” He shares. The bitterness melted away and his heart began to feel love and acceptance. After rebuilding relationship with the chaplains, Anthony felt a stable foundation beginning to form. Within months of volunteering, Anthony was offered a full-time position in the kitchen. He is now a head cook and shift leader at the Mission. Although Anthony never saw himself working in the food industry, Anthony felt like this was all part of Gods plan, “It was my calling to come back to this place.”
He enjoys preparing and serving meals at Sunday Breakfast because he feels like he is serving greater purpose than just food; he feels like he is helping people. “Sunday Breakfast was there for me when I was down on my luck, now I want to be there for the people who are down on their luck.” When Anthony is not working in the kitchen, he enjoys encouraging the men in the shelter and offers them resources to point them in the right direction. “I always tell them – focus and stay determined. You can conquer this.”
Anthony is now happily married and lives in West Philadelphia. His path of redemption all started with a meal.