The opportunity to be a part of Father Bernard’s is very exciting for me! My family owned a bakery here in Jamestown NY for over 90 years and that is where I was able to get my start in a culinary career. My path led me to work at many different wonderful restaurants for over 20 years, I was even able to open my very own dream restaurant. During all that time however, I was dealing with my own personal issues with substance use disorder and undiagnosed mental health conditions.
All thought it seemed on the outside that everything was fine and well in my life. The turmoil and pain were always there and dragging me down time after time. During this battle I had to deal with many different legal issues, being on the verge of homelessness, family issues and deep depression. In 2015 I was charged with my 3rd DWI, that is when I finally realized my life had to change for the better. My recovery journey started on January 4th 2015. Even though I loved being a Chef and working with food, I knew I had to step away from the industry, close my restaurant and start over. After 2 years of being sober and working on myself and my life, I decided to start volunteering at the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA), doing something I loved, cooking. I ran a group called “Cooking in Recovery”. The class was to help people see how to cook better, healthier meals for themselves on a lower budget. Running the class for a year led me to being hired at the MHA as a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA).
Now with the creation of the social enterprise project “Father Bernard’s Blessed Biscuits”, a joint project between the MHA and St Luke’s Episcopal Church, I am able to give back to people in a way that I love. Helping people just like myself that deal with many different life issues and situations to be able to get back on their feet and move forward in life. Being able to bake the biscuits and work along side the participants and to move forward in life with them while helping to teach them the baking skills I was taught many years ago is a great way for me to give back. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful project.
Sean M Jones