In 2009 Michael, also known by his nickname Bear, came to The Doe Fund in search of opportunity. Helping to break a cycle of incarceration and recidivism, The Doe Fund provided Bear with a supportive path to independence.
Although Bear never found himself living on the streets, he grew tired of relying on others to bail him out of trouble caused by an unwavering drug addiction. He was exhausted by his criminal behavior and drug abuse. His destructive lifestyle ultimately led to a near death experience that left him severely damaged. Following this eye opening experience, Bear had a spiritual awakening. As he began to reevaluate his life, he found faith, The Doe Fund, and, ultimately, the kitchen.
Soon after arriving at The Doe Fund, Bear entered the Culinary Arts program and immediately felt at home. Growing up, Bear would cook with his mother in the kitchen who worked as a short order cook. Returning to the kitchen reignited his passion for cooking. Bear worked closely with James, our Food Coordinator at the Harlem Center for Opportunity, and Gino, our Director of Food Services. James and Gino believed in Bear, even during those times when he didn’t believe in himself. With their support and guidance, Bear began building a brighter future for himself. Gino saw great potential in Bear’s baking abilities, and motivated him to pursue additional advanced training following his graduation from the Culinary Arts program.
Bear is eternally grateful for the opportunities that the culinary team at The Doe Fund made possible and credits the organization for being his support and family over the past 6 years. Bear was recently hired as a staff baker at The Doe Fund and also teaches cooking classes at his church. He is continuing his studies at night, presently enrolled in a contemporary jazz class, and aspires to own and operate a food truck where he can sell baked goods. He is committed to a life of faith, personal growth, and baking.
We are so proud of everything Bear has accomplished and are thrilled to welcome him back to The Doe Fund as an accomplished baker!