If you've been a regular reader of Fort Thomas Matters you know the passion that I have for The Brighton Center. That was the focus and reasoning behind my 18-month excursion through the world of competitive eating with Mark vs. Food, where I raised money with the help of local celebrities to benefit the center.
Last year, they helped over 74,000 people through 35 different programs. Think about those numbers. 74,000 local people that were given direct assistance which correlates wholly to those neighbors living next to us. People we know.
Whether that's someone recently let go from their job, someone getting help to put food on their table or in the case of The Brighton Recovery Center for Women, mending their lives from addiction.
I've seen these programs in action and I know the aid that goes into The Brighton Center goes directly back into our community. One of these programs that's been a raving success is headed up by Greg Riddle at the aforementioned Recovery Center for Women. The 100-bed facility in Florence has a focus to help the women there change their behavior, skills and attitudes related to their addictive lifestyles.
Riddle, who started at The Brighton Center in 1995, helped develop the Center Table Culinary Catering Program 3.5 years ago. Under the tutelage of Riddle, women living at the Recovery Center who show an interest in food services take courses on how to run a successful catering company.
"Every woman has to work in the kitchen while they live here. The ones who show a real interest in the kitchen are the ones who take on the challenge of going through the culinary course" said Riddle. "They are broken when they get here. The pressure of working in this type of industry helps them pull them out of their shells. They learn how to cope with pressure. How to multi-task. And doing it all while sober. It's been an invaluable program."
What is most impressive with Center Table Catering Program is its self-sustaining characteristic. They have booked over 125 paying jobs since starting the endeavor.
"We never know is the funding from the state will continue with our type of program," said Riddle. "We are doing our best to take these types of baby steps in order to be able to ensure the long term viability of work we do with these women's recovery."
Riddle has a background in the culinary arts and has a "knack for managing." What I think is most impressive is his ability to tightrope being able to nudge the girls into the pressure cooker of the kitchen, but at the same time not pushing too hard.
"The women have to make the decision (to enter the catering program) by themselves. They have to have the self desire and willingness to do the work," Riddle said.
Under his supervision the women learn everything they'd learn at a culinary institute. They learn how to properly prepare food, what it takes to safely handle the food, how flavors work together, how to cook for large groups or small dinners. When they graduate they have a Northern Kentucky Health Department food service certificate, a reference, and a business background in the food service industry.
Most importantly, according to Riddle, "Center Table gives 'hard to hire' women a break."
I was able to same their work at the 5-year anniversary of The Brighton Recovery Center for Women with Kentucky First Lady, Jane Beshear, present. It's outstanding. This is why my passion for The Brighton Center grows with each year. It's my hope that if I can give a little more insight into these programs, more will be willing to take an interest. They need the support.
This weekend, FortThomasMatters will again be partnering with The Brighton Recovery Center for Women to tell the individual story of addiction. One woman will be journaling her personal experience with recovery. It will be raw, emotional and real. Through these shared realities, it's my hope we can begin to put a face on addiction. Stay tuned.
If you'd like to hire Center Table, you can call Greg Riddle at 859-292-5492 or emailing him at Griddle@brightoncenter.com.