When Chad Houser was nominated as the best up-and-coming chef in Dallas, he likely thought his life was headed in a very specific direction. High-quality menus, great reviews and new experiences for Dallas diners.
But Houser gave up the career he could have had to create hundreds of second chances for others in his community.
Teaching skills and rebuilding lives
In 2011, Houser helped build Café Momentum, a restaurant training ground for juveniles after release from incarceration. Café Momentum uses a 12-month, paid internship program to prepare kids for work and life despite their criminal backgrounds.
The kids work each station in a restaurant, from host to server to line cook to dishwasher. If you’ve ever worked in food service, you know the skill and time management each of these roles require. Students are trained in restaurant management and are able to refine marketable skills while building a resume and earning money.
While enrolled in the program, participants are set up with case managers who help them break down the internal and external barriers that block success after release from prison. The kids get assistance for immediate needs such as clothing, food and housing. They also work through behavioral issues, surviving traumatic experiences and family assistance.
Eat. Drink. Change Lives.
Café Momentum operates under the motto “Eat. Drink. Change Lives.” and they’re doing a pretty good job of that.
Since 2011, Café Momentum has helped more than 500 at-risk youth, teaching them life skills and pouring resources into their success. While the recidivism rate for juvenile offenders in Texas is 48%, Café Momentum participants have a recidivism rate of just 15%. They’ve even gained the attention of major organizations such as the NFL!
Chad Houser’s efforts have given a second chance to hundreds of kids in Dallas who are looking for new starts. Investing in these kids’ lives and preparing them for careers has an incredible impact on the kids, the justice system and the community.