Get your maps! Get 'em hot! If you stick around for the reveal at 1:14, you'll be glad you did.
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."
This article originally appeared on 06.28.21
After Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, was pursued and shot by three white residents while jogging through a Georgia suburb, Ellen and Patrick Miller* of San Diego hung a Black Lives Matter flag in front of their house. It was a small gesture, but something tangible they could do.
Like many people, they wanted to both support the BLM movement and bring awareness about racism to members of their community. Despite residing in a part of the county notoriously rumored to be marred by white supremacists and their beliefs, their neighbors didn't say much about it—at first.
Recently, though, during a short window when both Ellen and Patrick were out of the house, someone sliced the flag in two and left the remains in their yard.
via Paula Fitzgibbons
They were upset, but not surprised.
"Nobody prior to May of 2020 said a word about our BLM flag," Ellen explains. "After George Floyd and the protesting started, we had about 50% positive interactions with our neighbors, quietly offering solidarity as they passed by on their morning and evening walks. Then 25% of interactions were a lot of older busybodies 'pearl clutching' and hoping that 'nobody takes this the wrong way and commits vandalism' against us." Then there were the men who would drive past and scream obscenities at Ellen while she unpacked groceries with her young child.
Instead of backing down, Ellen and Patrick grew more involved. They worked to educate themselves about racism. They attended and planned local BLM rallies—including a particularly turbulent one in the middle of their intolerant suburb where members of extremist groups suddenly appeared across the street to counter-protest. They donated to BLM and joined a leadership club that Ellen says "helps students of color with special needs navigate current society."
By the time Ellen and Patrick's flag was vandalized, they had already collected some back-ups. Undeterred, they replaced the flag with one that supports a broader mix of voices including the LGBTQ+ community, which they'd planned to hang for Pride Month in June.
via Paula Fitzgibbons
Though they felt the sting of violation, they understood there was no comparison to the indignities Black people in their area experience. As Ellen shares, it was mostly "a sad confirmation of the reputation of our town."
If the simple act of hanging a flag propelled Ellen and Patrick to lend greater support to the BLM movement, what happened next confirmed the need to continue working hard toward effective allyship.
Ellen explains that a couple of days after their BLM flag was vandalized, Patrick rushed into the house with tears in his eyes and handed her the typed note that was left at their front door along with two wrapped packages.
"I busted into an ugly cry as well," Ellen adds.
The note read:
"I saw your ripped BLM flag on Tuesday morning. I realize it could've been 'just the wind' but there are a fair number of other flags I see flying high in this neighborhood without tattering so suddenly…
So, just in case somebody vandalized it on purpose, I went ahead and made a $ donation to BLM on your behalf!
I also wanted to order you a replacement BLM flag in case you still wanted to fly it, then in a fit of passion I ordered two, so that there's another back-up, or a gift for another good person with a flag pole.
Also quick sidenote, I love your LGBTQ+ Ally flag too! As a "B," it gives me a sense of camaradery [sic]!
Do with these new flags as you will. It was simply my wish to 'fix' the torn flags the same way I wish to 'fix' some of the unkind acts against our fellow human beings. I saw it as a chance to remind you, remind myself, remind vandals and kind people alike that you can't tear away someone's humanity, you can't tear away their pride, you can't tear up love and compassion and good hearts the way you can tear up the fabric.
We'll continue to fly high!"
via Paula Fitzgibbons
The note confirmed Ellen and Patrick's hope that flying a simple flag might help people feel more welcome in their neighborhood.
"We no longer felt indignant, but happy that our flag symbol made another neighbor feel safe," Ellen says.
Flying a BLM flag in a neighborhood with ties to white supremacy allowed the Millers to make a statement against the prevailing racist attitudes in their town. It also moved them to act intentionally in support of BLM. They never imagined the vandalism of that same flag might someday invite more neighbors into solidarity as well.
As another resident of their town commented, "It's nice to know you aren't an island when it comes to compassion in your neighborhood."
*Names have been changed at their request.
When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.
Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.
"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."
Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."
That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."