Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Charles met and fell in love with Sandra in Hendersonville, North Carolina. They married, made their home in Hendersonville and had a son. When their child was five, the marriage ended. For Charles, it marked the start of a descent into self-destruction and a long journey back to love and self-respect.

Charles went back to Florida where his life “spun out of control”, landing him at a hard stop inside the walls of prison. On the other side, clean and sober, Charles reconnected with his wife and married once again. Charles recalls the start of their reunion as a “bumpy ride” – literally. “I spent weeks and weeks riding the bus all over Winston- Salem, trying to learn my way around and find a job.” It was on one of those bus rides that Charles spotted a brochure describing Second Harvest Food Bank’s Triad Community Kitchen (TCK) Culinary Training Program. For the first time in a long time, Charles was excited. “I remember walking into the Triad Community Kitchen classroom and feeling a sense of peace; a sense of belonging and real excitement about learning,” he said.

Charles recalls the curriculum was challenging and focused on learning new skills the “right way, by the book.” He remembers his graduation day as “a proud moment,” and Executive Chef Jeff Bacon’s reminder to “always do more than what is expected.”

Since graduating from TCK in 2011, Charles has lived by that advice and it has been noticed. His commitment to lead by example recently paid off when Claire Calvin, owner of The Porch Kitchen and Cantina, made Charles the AM Manager of the restaurant and gave him a key.

Today, Charles counts TCK staff, and all those who continue to place their trust and confidence in him and the TCK program, as friends and guides on his journey back to peace of mind. His star continues to soar.