Catering to a dream: Louisville’s Chefs for Success program helping clients build new lives

Catering to a dream: Louisville’s Chefs for Success program helping clients build new lives

By: David Ibata

When students of the Chefs for Success Culinary Arts Training program of The Salvation Army in Louisville, Kentucky, complete their studies and graduate, many want to do more with their new skills than hire on at a restaurant. Sam Ford, for example, wants to help homeless people like himself – and that may mean going into business for himself.

“With some of the people I’ve met at the shelter, I’d like to try them out and have them help me start catering,” Ford said. “I explain that the first run may be hard – nobody including myself is going to get paid because what we earn will go back into the company – but hopefully I can point them in a direction to get their lives back together, the same way I am doing.”

To accommodate dreams and ambitions like these, The Salvation Army Louisville Metropolitan Area Command has started a culinary post-graduate program, teaching students the ins and outs of the catering business.

“When students graduate from Chefs for Success, at least 25 to 50 percent say, ‘I want to cater, I want to own my own business, I want to own a food truck,’” said Wendy Rothfuss, a professional chef and caterer hired last fall to set up and teach the course.

“There’s a need for further education,” Rothfuss said. “I’m building a curriculum for a class that can be taught three to four times a year for graduates of Chefs for Success.”

Chefs for Success is an intensive, 10-week course that teaches its enrollees – men and women with a history of financial struggles and, often, homelessness – the requisite skills to enter the hospitality field, leading to a living-wage job and eventual self-sufficiency.

“We have restaurants calling us, asking for students,” Rothfuss said. “This program makes it possible for me to work with people individually to see their skill level so that I can match the right student with the right restaurant job.”

The Novak Family Foundation provided a $35,000 one-year grant to launch the catering training and service program. The grant also enhances Chefs for Success to more fully develop student recruitment, job placement and continued connections with fellow graduates and the program.

The first catering class, with nine students, started in January. It is offered at no charge to culinary school graduates. Students meet for three hours twice a week for seven weeks at Louisville Command headquarters, the former Male High School on Brook Street.

The curriculum covers such topics as converting recipes, measurements, event planning, presentation and budgeting.

Students also participate in The Salvation Army’s nascent catering program, started by Rothfuss as an adjunct to the school. “I’m trying to build that up as a business so that it can be rolled back into the program and continue,” she said.

The operation catered three in-house events last autumn and is now booking outside functions.

“Each student has to help at one of our catering events so they can get some experience,” Rothfuss said. “At the end of the course, we’ll have a tasting. We’ll make things on the menu that we’re creating for our catering menu and invite people in the area – other nonprofits and businesses – that might be interested in booking us.”

Ford, for his part, volunteers mornings in the Louisville Center of Hope shelter kitchen before going to work in the deli of a local Kroger.

He said he never would have made it this far without the prodding of daughter-in-law Audrey Ford, who first told him about the Chefs for Success program; and the encouragement of a friend, Vernshell Evans. “I have a disability, depression, and there were times I was down and didn’t want to go; she was one of the people by my side motivating me and pushing me.”

Now, Ford wants to do likewise for his fellow shelter residents.

“I appreciate being able to volunteer because, when it comes time for me to switch and follow that career in catering, I’m getting experience at the shelter,” Ford said. On White Flag nights when cold weather doubles the number of people coming in, for instance, he can do menu planning to ensure there’s enough food for everybody.

“I want to take this culinary experience and expand it every way I can to help people.”


Young adults gather for discipleship, fellowship at ‘Kickback’ weekend

Young adults gather for discipleship, fellowship at ‘Kickback’ weekend

By: Brad Rowland

Created organically from the desires of young adults in The Salvation Army’s Southern Territory, “The Kickback: It’s In Your Hands” convened for a mid-January weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Dozens of mission-minded, spiritually focused individuals gathered for a weekend of community, fellowship, fun and worship, all under the banner of Galatians 6:4-5.

“The Salvation Army has a group of on fire young adults who will not sit idly by when it comes to their own spiritual development,” said Emaniel Brifil, Florida divisional young adult and missions program coordinator and an organizer of the weekend. “I think it would benefit people to know that a group of young adults came together who are desperate for intentional relationships and discipleship.”

The event featured worship sessions, small group discussions and breakouts, service projects in the local community and a panel discussion on Saturday evening.

“The panel highlighted how passionate young adults are about cultivating authentic relationships with Christ and living that out in church and their communities,” said Sabrina Kemper, Florida divisional creative arts director and an organizer of the weekend. “All of the questions and the discussions that followed pointed to a group that loves the Lord, loves The Salvation Army and really wants its ministry to thrive and accomplish kingdom progress.”

Above all, the sense of community was palpable, particularly within small groups that could focus on issues and topics relevant to young adults.

“The Kickback was a different, yet amazing, experience that I really enjoyed,” said Matt Pulver, an attendee. “The small group setting allowed all of us to lead sessions amongst ourselves with our own questions. I really appreciated the opportunity to worship in an environment of mature young adults.”

Service projects ranged from nursing home visitation to the cleanup of a local park. That provided inspiration, and the atmosphere of the weekend was conducive to reflection and growth.

“This occurred with the money, energy and time of young adults who worked to make it happen simply because they cared to and that God blessed their efforts,” Kemper said. “It was a beautiful time of discipleship, prayer, singing, learning and outreach that changed all attendees for the better.”

Though plans are not necessarily in motion for a return in 2021, the leadership team is open to “wherever God leads” in this area, far from ruling out a similar gathering in the near future.

“The weekend was so needed,” said Jovanie Smith, territorial young adult and mission deployment coordinator. “It was fantastic to just be with people, have people feel welcome and not worry about anything but being there in community with one another. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been a part of.”


Sons of the Savior: Don’t call these Salvationists a motorcycle ‘gang’; they’re a ministry

Sons of the Savior: Don‘t call these Salvationists a motorcycle ’gang‘; they’re a ministry

By: Major Frank Duracher

Normally, when you hear or see a motorcycle gang, the image of fierce, mean renegade outlaws could be what you conjure up. But not the “Sons of the Savior” Motorcycle Ministry (SSMM), some of whose members are also soldiers of the Hendersonville, North Carolina, Corps.

That’s because, first, they don’t consider themselves “a gang” (theirs is a ministry); and second, these men and women are all born-again Christians. When they are not taking on a project to benefit the community or their corps, they are roaring down the open road — and even then, their witness is most evident by the gospel patches adorning their leather jackets.

The founding four members — Roy Snelson, Gary Benfield, Robert House and Scott Justus — were brainstorming ways to give life to the “aging” Men’s Fellowship Club at the Hendersonville Corps. Some younger members wanted to do more, and as they talked, they realized they all shared a love of motorcycles.

“Originally, we wanted to call ourselves ‘Sons of the Son,’ but another group had rights to that name, so we tried a few others on,” said founding president Snelson. “We really wanted to keep the ‘SOS’ or ‘SOTS’ acronym, and Gary suggested ‘Sons of the Savior.’ The name stuck.”

The “Sons” are male and female, and they spend about as much time doing good in the corps and in the community as they do on their hogs. Membership quickly grew; and you don’t necessarily have to own a motorcycle to join in the fun. The oldest member is 55; the youngest, 21.

“At least one member of the ‘Sons’ is on the road every day,” said Benfield, who rides a 2015 Harley Davidson Road King. “We try to group up on Saturdays and after church on Sundays—we ride as much and as often as we can.”

“This started out as a fellowship, but it quickly morphed into a ministry,” said Justus, who rides a 2000 Road King (all-chrome, with painted orange flames). “This is a brotherhood, and without a doubt it is the best. We love each other and we love serving the community.”

House, who sports a Kawasaki Vaquero 1700, said, “It is important for me to get with a group of guys who love the Lord and who I can trust. We do a lot of good around town, but it’s really to show everyone what Christianity is all about.”

One young couple caught the fever, although Shawn Briggs is a multigenerational biker.

“My mother was a biker (and a tattoo-artist!) and she rode with her dad. She passed her love of riding on to me,” Briggs said.

His wife, Christy, said she absolutely loves sitting on the back of Shawn’s 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan.

Some of the things they do in the name of Christ include helping with The Salvation Army Angel Tree program; making toy runs; stuffing school backpacks; manning hydration and prayer tents at Christian outdoor events; buying groceries for needy families; paying people’s power bills; and witnessing.

That last item is especially important to the Sons.

“When we ride to a location, we never take the same way back home,” Snelson admitted. “That’s because people are curious when they see us riding, and we answer their many questions. Whether we’re eating an ice cream cone or drinking a cola, we tell them about our love for the Lord and what he can do in their lives as well. We offer to pray with them.”

Straddling his 1999 Harley Davidson Fat Boy, Snelson said, “Look past our tattoos, bandanas, and leather jackets and see that we are a group of brothers who love Jesus.”

This is by no means the only Salvation Army motorcycle club, by any name — there’s at least one in each of the USA Eastern, Central and Western territories. Most clubs have their own patches and are incorporated.

However, offshoot chapters of “Sons of the Savior” are springing up in Austin, Texas; Topeka, Kansas; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Phoenix, Arizona; Hilo, Hawaii; and an innovating branch at the Charlotte, North Carolina, Adult Rehabilitation Center.

“In fact,” Snelson said, “our clubs are planning to meet near Camp Walter Johnson (North & South Carolina Division) and roar into men’s camp in May. Wouldn’t that be a fine sight (and sound) to see some 30 Christian men on their bikes rumbling into camp?”

For more information, please visit and on Facebook, Sons Of The Savior M/M.

Major Frank Duracher, a former staff writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.


‘Gather’ aims to provide women in mission and ministry with resource

‘Gather’ aims to provide women in mission and ministry with resource

By: Brad Rowland

More than a decade ago, The Salvation Army implemented “Catch the Joy” as something of a manual for ministry to women. Over time, it became clear to those monitoring the initiative that a fresh, modern approach was needed, and, beginning in January 2020, that vision comes to fruition with “Gather.”

“Gather” is described as a guide for women in mission and ministry. While it is not a traditional manual in some respects, it provides a full-fledged toolkit emphasizing freedom in ministry.

“We want to engage, encourage, equip and inspire women to be all that God created them to be,” said Major Susie Erickson, assistant territorial secretary for women’s ministries. “That’s our purpose in ministering to women. With this piece, we also want to encourage women to bring other women around the table. We want them to think beyond programming as well. We’re such great programmers, but we want women to start thinking about real season of life needs. We need to join with others in the community, getting outside, and ministering to specific needs rather than simply establishing programs.”

Aside from the primary requirement of mandating 44 mission-focused meetings per year as a tool for accountability and structure, the guidelines are exceedingly flexible and represent more of a re-imagining of the comprehensive work previously in place. One significant shift is the distinction between women’s ministries and what the resource refers to as ministry to women, with an aim toward being more culturally relevant and mission focused.

“Part of what ‘Gather’ does is that it gives permission for us to think differently about how we minister to women,” Major Erickson said. “We need to think beyond just a program, instead focusing on the holistic person. It is important that we reach beyond the walls of our corps building and into the community to see how we can minister to the needs of women.”

“’Gather’ is not a program. It’s more of an ethos or a call. It is inherently a call to mission, to gather women and to go where they are and bring them in.”

The guide is now available for distribution. “Gather” supplies resources for the development of ministry, including practical ideas on what women may encounter and what their challenges may be. In addition, “Gather” seeks to get away from the program-minded nature of some initiatives, instead focusing on mission.