Kevin George, an employee at the Salvation Army’s Boston, Mass., South End Corps Community Center, talks about how his daughter got her name, cooking classes in Adventure Corps, and growing up on the island of Antigua.
I work as the cook for the Center. One day, I was called into the corps earlier than usual. There had been fires in Cambridge and the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) fed the affected people. We sent 300 sandwiches and American chop suey for 270 people. Cooking for individuals who have experienced a tragedy is different from feeding lunch to kids. I had to work as fast as possible to make sure the food got to those folks on time and that it was ready to eat as soon as it arrived.
I was born in Antigua and everyone asks me if I miss living there. I’ll admit that island life is amazing. I can go anywhere without needing a car. I can visit a different beach in Antigua every day for a year. I’ve walked from my house to the beach and picked my meal from trees along the way. I did so much of that during the first 17 years of my life, that now I have a deep appreciation for the city of Boston. It’s the complete opposite of Antigua, and that’s what I love about it. I’ve lived here for 14 years, and I’m still experiencing city life in new ways.
My 7–year–old daughter Jada is my rock and my greatest accomplishment. I named her after one of the children who came to the South End Corps Community Center years ago. That Jada was an amazing girl too, but she was having a hard time fitting in. We became good friends, and I said to her, “If I ever have a little girl, I’m going to name her after you.” She didn’t believe me, but a month after my daughter was born, I brought her to the Community Center. There, Jada met Jada for the first time.
I grew up praying and worshipping with my grandmother. She was the one who put the importance of God in my life. She owned a special, giant Bible with colorful pictures in it, and we were only allowed to open it with her about once a year! But it was in that Bible that I learned a line of scripture that would always stay with me. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). In my life, I feel like I have also grown in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God by working for Him.
I’m looking forward to seeing the South End Corps bring back Adventure Corps, the Salvation Army’s version of the Boy Scouts. Along with learning life skills and the Bible, we’re also going to incorporate cooking lessons. I’ve never taught cooking before, but after graduating from the culinary arts program at the Boston Kroc Center last year, I feel prepared for it. The program gave me a wealth of knowledge in the kitchen about food and food safety. I want to teach the Adventure Corps members why chicken can’t be left out for long or why food needs to be cooked at certain temperatures. Even if they don’t want to cook, it’s important that they learn the safety rules regarding what they eat.
interview by Hugo Bravo