Position: Cohort 1 Participant in the #SpreadingHope crew
What’s your favourite song to jam to: We Jammin’ Bob Marley
The Southridge Jam Company is a social enterprise, which offers men and women who have experienced homelessness an opportunity to develop job skills while producing delicious jams and jellies. With the guidance of our Red Seal Chef, Cam Block, our program participants work as a team with volunteers and team leaders to make jam using local fruit. They continue to help through the various stages of production and sales. We sat down with Thomas, one of the participants from Southridge Jam Co.’s very first cohort!
Wearing his newly customized apron, with his name embroidered at the top, Thomas was full of joy and contagious humour as he shared about his life changing experience at Southridge Jam. Co. What began as a spontaneous “yes” to an offered opportunity, turned into a 8 week journey of personal growth and job training for this dynamic member of the Southridge Jam Co. team. Read below as he shares his reflections on the #SpreadingHope experience, and how it has shaped his plans for the future!
Thomas, what was it that made you want to join Southridge Jam Co.?
Simple–our team leader, Brendon, asked me! I loved the sound of it, and so I decided to join.
When you look back at your time spent in Cohort 1 of Southridge Jam Co., what was your favourite memory?
Definitely the team building exercises, where we learned about each other. You had to step out of your comfort zone, and see where others’ comfort zones were. The activities showed us how different we all are, but we had to work together as a team, which was great. We were also facilitators for a corporate business leadership day. We showed other leaders how to work as a team and how to make jam. That was a positive for us, and for them!
What was the most important thing you learned about making jam?
What a lot of people wouldn’t realize is how much chemistry we use; it’s more than just following a recipe, like a, b, c. It’s a lot of testing…and not just taste testing! You taste test when it’s all finished, but before that, it’s all chemistry. You use sugar tests to balance out the recipe.
So the jam is made with love, but also a lot of precision!
What have you gained from this experience personally?
I would say, learning to realize other people’s needs and being able to understand them and work around them. Sometimes we like things our own way, but I had a lot of opportunities to learn how to respect others and see their needs…it was amazing learning how to work as a team!