by Mindy Kyle
Café Liberty In Wheaton Is Helping Unemployed and Underemployed Veterans with New Program
This month holds Veteran’s Day, the day to honor the men and women that have served this country proudly. There have been many foundations built and fundraisers held to assist our veterans in need, and we could always use more. The Dan Gibbons Foundation, best known for their Annual Turkey Trot, a 5K race on Thanksgiving Day in Elmhurst with 7-8,000 runners, has found a different avenue to assist our veterans – offering them an opportunity to build a lifetime career.
The Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot Foundation (DGTTF) began in 1984 as a vessel to raise funds for food pantries and emergency shelters for DuPage County. In the fall of 2017, the foundation announced its plans for Café Liberty, a new culinary skills training program that professionally trains veterans who are unemployed or underemployed for a lifetime career in the culinary field. “Rather than be an organization that feeds someone for a day, why not train them to cook and they can eat for a lifetime,” says Dan Gibbons, DGTTF Executive Director.
Café Liberty, located at 120 E. Liberty Dr. in Wheaton, is open to both veterans and adult family members of the veterans. “We believe that
when one family member serves the military, the whole family serves,” says Dan. The eleven-week program is offered up four times a year with roughly ten people per class. Executive Chef Cheryl Corrado, former Executive Chef at CHIC (Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago – Le Cordon Bleu) helped them develop the program and served as their first instructor. In May 2019, one of their first graduates, Billy Gordon, a twenty-year US Navy veteran, was promoted to their current Executive Chef and Chef Instructor.
The program is funded by catering two days a week to FT Portfolios; however, there is still a need for public donations. “Our goal,” says Dan, “is to give each family the resources and training to become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.” If you would like to know more about Café Liberty, donating to the program or sponsoring a student, visit them at www.cafeliberty.org