ROCKFORD (WREX) – Ted Brothers has over 30 years in culinary experience.
Originally from the east coast, he has cooked across the country but now finds himself at Capital House on west State Street.
Just over a year ago, Brothers decided to use his experience to help some select people get back on their feet.
Partnering with the Rockford Rescue Mission, he is offering jobs to past minor felony offenders who have cleared the missions programs.
“They’re trying to get these people on their feet, lets give that a shot and see what happens, and we did and we’ve had some successes,” said Ted Brothers.
“It’s good to see these guys being able to come in, take responsibility for themselves and move on.”
Capital House has employed 10-12 people from the mission in the last year.
Today, they still have 5 working as servers, who are thankful for the opportunity they were given to get back on track.
“It’s right down the street which worked out really well for me when I stayed down there. It’s definitely improved my personal life as well as my professional life,” said restaurant server Nicolas Johnson.
Before the mission, I had no self esteem and no self worth. For somewhere nice like this to take me in, even considering my background, it was humbling and a privilege,” said restaurant server Ethan Langley.
Some have done so well, they no longer live at the mission.
Joshua Kelley falls into that category, spending 17 total months at the mission and a few night under the Jefferson Street bridge.
He now lives in an apartment of his own, just a short drive away from Capital House.
“They put you right back on track here. Even if you’re doing well for yourself, they’re going to keep motivating you,” said Kelley.
Kelley considers his coworkers an extension of his family.
He shows immense gratitude to Brothers, who looked at him, not as a former criminal, but like any other employee.
“He just talked to me like I was on his level. That was pretty awesome. That’s very respectful You can’t really find that in other places,” said Kelley.
While it’s not a perfect science, the results Brothers has seen so far gives him hope other businesses will get on board with giving more opportunity for people looking for a fresh start.
“Everything that people do to help anyone is always a good thing . . . but to watch them grow because now they feel they have a purpose. You can’t buy that ya know,” said Brothers.
The next step is for Capital House to start a culinary program through the Rockford Rescue Mission to teach people basis skills.
It will be open to anyone who wants to learn, not just those living at the mission.
There isn’t a set start for that program as of now.