Fisherman’s Mark Social Services, a Lambertville, N.J., nonprofit, creates and administers programs to assist vulnerable populations in the Lambertville community and beyond. Sometimes these programs take on a life of their own, driven by the people they serve. “Recipe for Success” is one such program.
It began with a library survey administered by Los Puentes (The Bridges), a Fisherman’s Mark program that reaches out to the Latino community. The replies made clear that many individuals from rural Central or South America who are living in our community understand “library” to mean no more than a shelf of books in the local schoolhouse. Director of Operations Ricardo Zapata saw an opportunity to explain all that our local libraries have to offer.
Zapata, who also sits on the Lambertville Library Board, uncovered what services would mean the most to this group. “What they really wanted were empowerment and personal enrichment classes,” he said.
The library developed a 10-week program called “Latinas de Lambertville” emphasizing self-empowerment and practical skills that would help students in their day-to-day life. Upon completion of the class, the participants were asked what they would like to take on beyond the curriculum. “Because they are all really good cooks, they wanted to learn how they can improve their skills in a restaurant setting,” Zapata said.
Longtime Fisherman’s Mark donor, Tim Luccaro, general manager of HollyHedge Estate in Solebury, offered the Holly Hedge kitchen and engaged Jose Calderon, their longtime Spanish-speaking chef to teach the class. “Recipe for Success” was born.
“The collaboration made sense,” Luccaro said. “We have an opportunity to assist the underserved population by creating a more skilled labor force. They are the lifeblood of our community and it’s important that we invest in their professional development. As a leader in this industry, we hope other businesses will do the same,” he said. The first class was held on June 11.
HollyHedge Chef Jose Calderon teaches the class in the HollyHedge facility. “After working for many years in the kitchen, I realize that the best way to help the Latino Community is to share my knowledge and experience and motivate them to walk the path that I walked a long time ago,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity for us to develop new skills and motivate us to start a new business,” said Martha Alvarez, participant of the program. “Sometimes this kind of support is too hard to find outside of the city.” Martha came here from Mexico eight years ago in search of a better life for her four children.
“If any of these wonderful students end up opening a restaurant, I will be a regular,” said Jennifer Williford, executive director of Fisherman’s Mark. “The goal for all of our programs is to help our clients become self-sufficient in their new community which this program certainly achieves. It is such a privilege to be part of that journey and to witness firsthand their commitment to a fruitful and satisfying life through determination and hard work,” she said.
Donations can be made at fishermansmark.org.