Twenty-two year old Aquila just graduated from college and will soon begin a job at the luxurious Seaport Hotel overlooking Boston Harbor.  She worked there last summer and has acquired a wealth of other valuable food-service experience.  It’s hard to believe just six years ago she was doing poorly in school, lacked motivation or direction, and emphatically did not want to go to college.

But with help from the Boston nonprofit, Future Chefs, Aquila was able to turn her life around.  And she is hardly alone.  On Wednesday, I attended a dinner celebrating the newest crop of young people to graduate from its program in which chefs at local restaurants provide mentorship aimed at getting these kids to hone the skills needed for kitchen work, develop a strong sense of responsibility and discipline on the job, and feel confident in their own abilities.

As I applauded after hearing the personal accomplishments of each of these remarkable young people being honored, I couldn’t help but wonder where they might be without Future Chefs.  Many of them come from low-income families, which often lack the resources and connections to help their kids successfully transition to adulthood.  Future Chefs provides a second chance for these kids, each of which is following in Aquila’s footsteps on their way to a bright future.