Have you ever wondered how helping another person can cause a ripple effect of positive impact? In this heartfelt episode of Add Passion and Stir, host Billy Shore and guests celebrity chef Curtis Stone and attorney and foster care advocate Miles Cooley discuss the far-reaching effects that occur when we act as an advocate for people in need. Cooley, who experienced profound neglect as a young child and lost his mother at age five, grew up in the foster care system in California. “The great part of my story, and why I think an advocate can make such a difference, is there was a school psychologist…who took an interest in me. Her name is Leslie Cooley and she is the woman I now call Mom.” Stone has seen an advocate make an impact in his own family. “It’s really unbelievable, isn’t it? … It’s just that one decision a person makes to say ‘I’ll give a damn about this person and I’ll actually go out on a bit of limb,’” he says. He recounts the story of his own mother-in-law, a Korean War orphan who lived on the streets of Korea for five or six years following the war and then was adopted by an American family. “If it wasn’t for that family deciding to adopt this little girl from Korea, my wife wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t have met her and my kids wouldn’t exist,” ponders Stone.
In addition to being a long-time Share Our Strength supporter, Stone – who owns two restaurants in Los Angeles (Maude and Gwen) – works with Chrysalis, an organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals. For Stone, this provides an opportunity to impact individuals in need by mentoring. “We employed our first Chrysalis employee at the restaurant four years ago as a dishwasher. He’s now a supervisor, he looks after 15 employees,” says Stone. Recently, he shared the Chrysalis story with other leaders in the restaurant industry and says there are already six or seven who have begun working with them. For Cooley, paying it forward is part of his DNA. “Having come from a foster care experience…once I was in a position to think outside myself and had the wherewithal, it was a forgone conclusion that I was going to be invested and involved in trying to help kids who came up like I did,” he explains. He works with a number of organizations that advocate for foster kids including John Burton Advocates, Peace4Kids, and First Star.
Listen to this authentic and powerful conversation that will make you consider the far-reaching effects of advocating for someone less fortunate.
Resources and Mentions:
- No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org): Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
- Root Cause Coalition: (rootcausecoalition.org) The Root Cause Coalition is a national, member-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants leading to nationwide epidemic of preventable chronic health conditions.
- Curtis Stone is an internationally known chef, TV host, entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author. His philosophy to cook as Mother Nature intended inspires him to keep his recipes simple, using local, seasonal and organic ingredients and allowing the food to speak for itself. Stone opened a multi-functional culinary headquarters in Beverly Hills in January 2014, featuring a test kitchen, production facilities and his restaurant, Maude. He later opened Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant with his brother Luke Stone. Each year Stone and his team commit to one main cause and non-profit organization that supports it. This year, they chose Chrysalis organization, which is a Los Angeles area nonprofit organization dedicated to helping economically disadvantaged and homeless individuals become self-sufficient through jobs. Stone is also a long-time supporter of Share Our Strength.
- Maude offers a market driven, prix-fixe monthly menu designed to create an intimate chef’s table experience for the entire dining room. Each month a unique 10-course menu is created to pay homage to one seasonal ingredient and to all of the produce that comprises the tasting plates. Serving only a special, small group at any one time means Maude’s dishes are strikingly detailed, refined and appreciated in a small, intimate space.
- Gwen is both a European-style, chef-driven butcher shop and a restaurant that is redefining fine dining in LA, with an elegant feast style menu presenting up to 20 dishes that call on fire-based cooking techniques. Gwen works directly with ranchers and purveyors to source animals, and uses only the best tasting product, all hormone-free, ethically raised and slaughtered.
- Chrysalis is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment. Their philosophy is that a steady job is the single most important step in a person’s transition out of poverty and onto a pathway to long-term self-sufficiency. Offering a hand up, rather than a hand out, Chrysalis empowers its clients to complete a self-directed job search. Chrysalis services help low-income and homeless individuals across Los Angeles County to prepare for, find, and retain employment, providing the tools and support necessary so they can succeed in the job market for the rest of their lives.
- Miles Cooley serves as counsel to entertainment and media companies, major celebrities and high-profile individuals. He negotiates and documents their deals, protects their assets at every turn and aggressively defends their rights and investments on a local, regional and global scale. Miles’ clients include entertainment and media businesses, major corporations and high-net-worth individuals, such as pop and hip-hop musical artists, sports talent, actors, producers, race car drivers, prominent families and cutting-edge creatives, entrepreneurs and thought-innovators. Aside from his burgeoning law practice, he has an active pro bono practice and serves on the National Board of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and has worked to protect voting rights since 2004. Miles is also actively involved in various other nonprofit organizations, such as The John Burton Advocates for Youth and Peace4Kids, both of which work to empower foster children and resolve state and federal foster care issues.
- John Burton Advocates for Youth is a statewide non-profit organization based in San Francisco, working to improve the quality of life for California’s foster, former foster, and homeless youth. It was founded in 2005 by progressive champion John Burton, a former member of Congress, the California State Assembly and President Pro Tem of the California State Senate. John Burton Advocates for Youth works in three areas: education, housing and health.
- Peace4Kids is a non-profit, volunteer supported organization promoting trust, equity and stability for children in foster care. For 19 years, Peace4Kids has built a community where youth in foster care discover a shared cultural experience. The Peace4Kids vision of “community as family” provides consistency, stability, and trust for participants ranging in age from 4 years old through adulthood.
- First Star is dedicated to improving life for child victims of abuse and neglect. Since 2011, First Star has pioneered support programs to launch foster children into productive lives and careers through higher education. First Star improves the lives of foster youth by partnering with child welfare agencies, universities, and school districts to ensure foster youth have the academic, life skills, and adult supports needed to successfully transition to higher education and adulthood.