Every morning, Stella “Sunshine” Eady gets to work at 5 a.m. to cook at the Taylor Grocery deli. Customers and staff look forward to her chicken and dumplings, pork chops and other lunch specials. Stella loves her job. But getting her job took a little extra preparation. Thanks to the Healthy You Inc. Employment Program she attended, Stella gained the confidence she needed to put her past behind her and move forward with her life.
Stella ran into trouble anytime someone found out about the felony conviction in her past. When filling out applications, she felt defeated when she had to check the box stating that she had been convicted of a felony. After losing a job that she had for over a year when her employer found about about her past, Stella decided to take the time to attend a class on Relationships in the Workplace. There, she learned how to be honest about her past without jeopardizing her future. She attended the class on a Friday; on the following Monday, she landed her new job with Taylor Grocery.
The deli at Taylor Grocery had been closed due to the need for a new cook. Manager Frances Condrey interviewed Stella and they immediately clicked. They felt like they already knew each other. Stella’s past was never a factor in Condrey’s decision. She told Stella to make herself at home so Stella rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
“The first thing Stella told me was that she loved to cook. She was perfect. She is one of us now,” Condrey says.
Stella’s job gave her a new outlook on life. She learned her way around the gas stove at the deli and perfected her recipes. Stella has always believed she was born to cook, and her regular customers agree. They often post pictures on Facebook of her biscuits, country fried steak and gravy and other specialties.
“I trained at home. It’s called Mama’s Kitchen. I am missing from some of our family photos because I was always in the kitchen cooking,” she says. “I have customers now who are so regular I put their names on their biscuits every morning. My number one customer can’t go to school without one of my biscuits.”
Now, Stella is planning to go back to school to get her GED. She feels inspired and motivated and is thinking about going into physical therapy after she finishes her GED.
“The class taught me that I can do anything,” she says. “I do love my job. I even cook when I get home from work.”