Give someone the opportunity and they can exceed all expectations, as one formerly homeless, budding chef proved last month.
Dave was nominated as an ‘Outstanding Resident Volunteer’ by members of Community Chef after his exemplary hard work.
The Community Chef project is run from homelessness scheme The Quays in Kent, and is supported by Church Housing Trust to provide homeless individuals the chance to learn basic cooking skills, or to take things much further.
Community Chef Mike wrote about Dave’s involvement:
“Dave enrolled on the first of a series of ‘Cooking on a Budget’ courses almost 12 months ago and quickly established himself as an enthusiastic and committed participant. He has always been eager to help, support, and encourage others.
“This enthusiasm and commitment has grown considerably over the past six months. Most notably, Dave volunteered his services throughout the 2015 Whitstable Oyster Festival. The Community Chef project had been commissioned to support the single largest ‘pop-up’ restaurant during the festival. A 400-seater restaurant space, with a live music stage and large bar, it was a highly demanding working environment.
“Dave should be commended for his willingness to be, quite literally, thrown into a multitude of tasks. He quickly became an integral part of the back kitchen’s engine room. His attention to detail was exceptional at all times.
“What makes Dave’s volunteering skills stand out is his own remarkable battle with a lifelong bone condition. Dave has spent a lifetime in and out of complex surgery and it is clear that he says very little about the challenges he faces on a daily basis. For a volunteer to drive himself to the event on a daily basis and make the final journey to the restaurant on a mobility scooter is a display of phenomenal courage.
“Dave continues to make himself available to the project and its work at The Quays. He has further supported our ‘Cup Full of Kindness’ Friday soup and bread sessions. He has returned to the ‘Cooking on a Budget’ course and actively supports newer programme participants.
“Most recently, he spent two demanding days in the kitchen with me preparing, cooking and providing an excellent lunch service for 100 guests at a Swale Action To End Domestic Abuse (SATEDA) event in Faversham.
“These examples are just a snippet of his overall volunteering with the project. He provides a solid link between the project, residents at The Quays, and the staff.
“Dave Willis is not just a volunteer. As a father of six, he has much to juggle with in his life. It is difficult to measure the impact of his volunteering, nevertheless Dave really does make a difference. The Swale Community Chef Project sees him as a far more than a volunteer.”