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This story was originally shared on Capital One.
Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.
"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.
While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.
Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.
La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.
That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.
Photo courtesy of Capital One
The organization also offers participants the opportunity to enroll in its Culinary Small Business Incubator, a 9-week training course that teaches participants to create and scale their own food-based startups.
During that program, LA Cocina VA provides participants with support for developing the internal operations of their businesses and provides a shared kitchen for community members to rent space at affordable rates.
Patricia Funegra, who founded La Cocina VA in 2014, said that helping people like Klohr is exactly why she wanted to create the incubator.
"I have firsthand experience of the difficulties of being an immigrant and person of color in America," said Funegra. "At the same time, I also know the enormous opportunities that exist here to improve people's lives."
With the help of funding from Capital One, the center has been able to support 160 participants since opening with roughly 85% of graduates being hired for jobs in the food industry upon completion.
La Cocina VA also received support from Capital One's Community Finance team as it provided financing for the construction of Gilliam Place, an affordable housing unit in which La Cocina VA moved its operations into in 2020.
After moving into Gilliam Place, Funegra launched the Zero Barriers Training and Entrepreneurship Center, a hub for startup founders that includes a kitchen incubator and a community cafe to provide workforce development opportunities for residents.
That support comes as part of the Capital One Impact Initiative, a multi-million dollar commitment to support growth in underserved communities and advance socioeconomic mobility by closing gaps in equity and opportunity.
La Cocina VA students also worked alongside Capital One Cafe ambassadors to learn skills in management and personal finance.
Photo courtesy of Capital One
"The COVID-19 pandemic forced entrepreneurs, especially people of color and immigrants, to shift their entire business models just to survive," said Emilia Lopez, the Senior Vice President of US Card Customer Resiliency, who serves on La Cocina VA's Board of Directors. "As a La Cocina VA board member, I am proud of the commitment and support Capital One provides La Cocina VA and thankful for their effort this past year to help entrepreneurs quickly adapt their businesses to support alternative dining options."
La Cocina VA is also in constant communication with employers, partners, hotels and restaurants to make them aware of their pipeline of graduates.
"La Cocina VA taught me not just the physical work that goes into baking and cooking but also how to have a good understanding to mentally and financially launch my business," said Klohr. "They're helping me make those connections and I know they'll always have my back."
Might we never really pass on into nothingness? Has the world ended many times before? Are we in fact doomed to spend eternity unknowingly jumping from one dimension to the next? According to one TikTok theory, the answer is yes. And it's blowing millions of minds worldwide.
Joli Moli (@joli.artist) is quite used to spooking and perplexing viewers with conspiracy theories and alternative hot takes. In her video titled "Apocalypse...again," Joli introduced the concept of Hugh Everett's quantum immortality.
Fans of the Marvel "multiverse," are quite familiar with this concept, where instead of experiencing death, "your consciousness just gets transferred to a parallel universe where you survived," the TikTokker explained.
Joli admits that this might burst the bubbles of those seeking the "sweet relief" of a widespread apocalypse. "If the quantum immortality theory is correct," she deduced, "you're just going to wake up in a parallel universe with no memory of the fact that you just survived an apocalyptic event."
According to Joli, the only sort of clue or hint you'd get that you might have woken up in a parallel world would be "new Mandela effects." You know, the strange phenomenon where all of a sudden there are two completely opposing memories of historical events? Yeah, quantum theory says that if you remember Curious George having a tail, you probably died in another universe.
Driving her point home, Joli added: "What I'm basically implying here is that in our reality, apocalypses happen every day … after the inevitable apocalypse occurs, you're going to wake up the next day in a new reality, and the next thing you know, you're going to find yourself on Reddit talking about 'since when did Pizza Hut have two Ts?!' Arguing with people who are native of this new reality, talking about 'it's always had two Ts'."
I for one would never want to live in a Pizza Hutt universe. Blech.
Still not sold on the theory? Joli has further arguments: "You don't believe me? Okay, it's been about 65 million years since the asteroids allegedly took out the dinosaurs. ... So you mean to tell me that in the last 65 million years, no other asteroids have come through the neighborhood, taken us out? You think we're just that lucky, huh? No other super volcanic events in 65 million years? We're just out there in space just dodging asteroids by luck, right? Earth doesn't have a steering wheel."
Hmmm. That's a good point.
Joli concluded with the upbeat sentiment that "Earth is probably always being taken out, and our consciousness just keeps getting transferred to another parallel universe, and another one, and another one. For all you know, the apocalypse maybe already happened last night…"
So far, in this reality anyway, the video has 4.9 million views. And—as to be expected—the video left many feeling uneasy.
One user commented, "Ok, I'm actually kind of freaking out right now coz I'm not the conspiracy typa guy, but you're like eerily making sense."
A few resorted to sarcasm as a defense mechanism (understandably), like this Twitterer: "Thanks I was overdue for another existential crisis."
The discourse got so intense, people were reporting physical side effects from the stress. One person wrote: "The thought of never being able to actually die is extremely depressing, and it's giving me a headache."
Another added, "Bruh, I'm just done with this anxiety. My body [is] emotionally [and] physically TIREDDD."
One commenter, who clearly had their priorities straight, wrote: "You're over here talking about extinction level events and I'm having to check on the two Ts in Pizza Hut."
It wasn't all gloom and doom though. According to indy100, some saw the potential of eternal life as a comfort against the loss of loved ones, while others finally got to make sense of their "world-ending" dreams.
If you have watched the original TikTok and are filled with burning questions, Joli posted a follow up Q&A video. A small disclaimer: You might be left with even more questions.
Though we may never really know what awaits us on the other side, it is interesting to think that we might live in a multiverse with infinite second chances. And whether or not this theory floats your metaphysical boat, it's fun to contemplate on one of life's biggest mysteries.