I love to cook! My “recipe to brag about” has always been homemade macaroni-and-cheese. But making a home cooked meal is the first thing to go when you’re on the streets or living in a day-to-day crisis.

My name is Davina. My five-year-old daughter, Mercedes, and I entered Dream Centers Mary’s Home about a year ago. My favorite memory as a child was aThanksgiving my Auntie bought a pumpkin crumble pie from Safeway, and we ate a feast of roast turkey, macaroni-and-cheese, green beans, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Auntie’s apartment smelled of baked bread and bubbling macaroni-and-cheese. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving best because even the shelters serve turkey and mashed potatoes, and regardless of circumstances, everyone is of good cheer on that day.

Most of us moms at Mary’s Home grew up mostly on fast food or microwaved frozen meals. You don’t realize how intimidating it is to step into a kitchen that’s yours for the first time. Seriously, most of the moms don’t know what to do with a carrot or onion or a raw piece of meat! This kind of thing wasn’t passed down to us. 

I had some experience from watching my Auntie and hours of food shows! In fact, my dream was to one day be a chef. So I cried the first time I cooked in my kitchen at Mary’s Home. I remember touching everything—the pots and pans, the sharp knives, the forks, spoons, and plates, and each of the fresh vegetables. It was as if God himself brought down heaven to me. The first meal I wanted to make was my Auntie’s homemade macaroni and cheese. I pulled out the pasta, and got to work on the secret recipe. It wasn’t long before my home was filled with the aroma of buttery cheese and macaroni, and the sweet scent of pie given to me as a welcome from another resident mom. The smell and taste of that first meal will forever stick with me.

 When you’ve been on the streets, it’s the little things that tell you you’re safe and stable. Sometimes these little things creep up on you and sometimes they hit all at once. For some girls it’s something simple like fluffing up a throw pillow on their couch. For me, cooking represented safety and “home.” As I made a meal for my daughter that first time, I nourished my child and felt a great sense of accomplishment. It’s as if life had finally decided to go our way. As I grated the cheese, I let the tears flow and said to myself, “Rest and just be.”

 Since then, I have been able to attend several cooking classes at Mary’s Home and have even had a few opportunities to cook for the other mom’s. But the best part of all, I am able to attend culinary school at Pike Peak Community College – and my dream of being a chef is going to become a reality!

Dream Centers occasionally shares stories reflective of the real life experiences of women and families we have served. Please know that all names have been changed and descriptive life events edited to protect all actual parties involved. Dream Centers is unable to regulate outside subsequent commentary on or distribution of those stories. We value every woman and family we serve and are committed to doing everything possible to protect their privacy.