Every day, Opal Cotto arrives at work at BRC's Palace Employment Shelter, where she prepares lunch and dinner for over 100 men and women looking for work. The love that is a key ingredient in each of her recipes comes with a special appreciation for the challenges faced by her hungry clients.
Before BRC, Opal's income came from selling drugs. That is until she got caught. She used her time in prison to reflect, and became determined to be more responsible once her freedom was restored. While incarcerated, she used her time wisely, gaining knowledge and work experience. Released from prison in 2007, Opal came to BRC's outpatient substance abuse treatment center. She yearned for the responsibility and structure of work, not wanting to make the same mistakes again. Opal applied to and was accepted by Horizons, BRC's employment program. She learned quickly, and soon was rewarded with a 20-hour/week internship in BRC's main kitchen. She was a great student, and performed outstandingly. After completing her three-month internship, Opal found part-time employment at a fitness center.
But, having fallen in love with the kitchen, Opal continued to return to Horizons to search for full-time work. In 2008, Opal learned of an opening for a full-time cook… at BRC. She applied, was interviewed, and was offered the job. Today, two years later, Opal arrives each day with a smile on her face, embracing all the heat her kitchen has to offer.