Position: Participant at The Southridge Jam Co.
When I arrived at The Southridge Jam Co. kitchen at the end of a Thursday jam session, I found Scott busy at work in the kitchen, mopping up one of the most beautiful messes I had ever seen–the purple juice of Concord grapes that will soon become Grape Jelly… on the counters, the floors, and everyone’s white aprons! Before I could begin imagining how our professional chef Cam got those aprons back to their crisp white colour every day, Scott greeted me with a big smile. He grabbed his cup of coffee and with the amazing aroma of grape jelly in the air, Scott began sharing how his time at Southridge Jam Co. has changed his life:
J: How did you first hear about Southridge Jam Co. and what made you want to get involved?
S: Word of it first came to me when I was a resident in the shelter a while back. I had also heard about it from Thomas [another participant in Southridge Jam Co.] when I met him downtown one day. And he stopped me and started to talk to me about everything [Southridge Jam Co.] was doing, and he was so excited! So I became really interested! I have a business background, and I had spent a lot of time in commercial kitchens in my earlier career…so this seemed like a great opportunity to redevelop some of the skills I already had.
J: What has been the highlight for you of your Southridge Jam Co. experience?
S: Without question, it is the team! It is the opportunity for new relationships, and building and understanding the essence of team work. And how that improves my own skill set, with a group so diverse, with so many different skill sets… And of course, our chef Cam is a great facilitator. He has such a wise and gentle way of teaching us, as our kitchen leader–everyone else gets enveloped by it. It helps that everybody is developing a fellowship in conjunction with this skill development process. This is a very talented team running and in charge. That makes this exciting. People are so dedicated to this outcome.
J: It seems that there is something really special about the environment here at Southridge Jam Co. How do you feel walking into the kitchen every week and making jam?
S: Oh, it is amazing! It starts the night before actually–I get psyched about it! Everyone carries this incredible energy into the kitchen. Because of the process and we’re all taught well, the energy picks up even another notch when we start working. People go into a production mode that I have never seen! Working with people for the same target outcome, puts us on the same journey…because the product comes together, but all of us are in step, working together in different tasks, to achieve one goal. That’s the magic! …I get super stoked, it’s wonderful.
J: That’s fantastic! I love to see how excited you are just talking about it. So when you’re at work in the kitchen with this awesome group of people, what is your favourite part of the jam-making?
S: Ohh, the cooking! I love to work with the product. The technical aspects of having to bring the product to temperature properly, I just love the precision. And my kitchen partner, [we’re] such a great team! We sing camp songs together, and without question, she is a life mentor for me. It’s a four hour jam-making process in front of the stove, but when we start talking and singing, the four hours fly by! … But yes, I’ve kind of taken ownership of the cooking. That’s the part of the creative process I love …
We’re creating, to help people. And when you take ownership of something like that, you know that process is worth all the hard work to the finish line. I love what this does!
J: And now that you’ve completed stage 1 and are working towards finishing stage 2, how has this changed your life moving forward? What are your future plans?
S: This has been a terrific step for me. Having to go through a break in my life, and change, this was a great opportunity to reengage into the business community, into teamwork and team building, but it’s also given me a new type of skill set to move on with what I already have. My life has changed dramatically, with many great opportunities. It has given me back the chance to give back to the community. I’m volunteering at the shelter to give back. I took a small break, and it’s amazing the transitions that have happened. Probably the biggest thing is that I hope that this is what can help bring community awareness… and awareness of all the of wonderful people that can be met at the shelter….Now, you have to be a little vulnerable, because humility is growth.
Yes, we might have come from a tough part of our life, but that part is over, and we are moving forward, with new opportunities. And adversity is growth.
It’s also a chance for spiritual growth... but this isn’t something we do alone. We need help. It’s okay to ask for help…You can tell how excited I am about this! People see the change [in me] and they ask the question: what has been the change? … And I would say Southridge Jam Co.
J: What is your favourite memory throughout your time at Southridge Jam Co.?
S: The launch day [of Southridge Jam Co. sales] was SPECTACULAR! The best part of that? The energy of the team going through that process. Watching the [Southridge Jam Co.] video, having all the dignitaries come in, talking to all our supporters–it was an opportunity to reengage in the community. The launch really showed that it didn’t matter [whose story was being told], the stories were all engaging … it was SO EXCITING! … It was such a wonderful team effort. When the team is in that particular environment, we are so humbled. They really want the purpose to be about changing more lives. We want so bad for other people to feel this way…this peace of mind that will bring you such joy…having the wisdom I have gotten from this journey really is the food that nourishes my relationships and life. This is what life is supposed to be. My daughters see it, my friends see it, my coworkers see it…
I’m hoping through The Southridge Jam Co. that this message of life change can be carried forward.
J: In all of these beautiful reflections you have shared with us today, what do you want us to know we are buying when we order a jar of jam from Southridge Jam Co.?
S: You’re buying hope. You’re helping your fellow man in need, to grow, and become part of society again. You’re buying purpose….And a good product!