Common Threads Miami Program Alum Now Proud Volunteer
Article by: LaTrice Stirrup | Common Threads
May 24, 2019 – Ricky Dixon is a 15-year-old freshman at Miami Central Senior High School, who shares a unique passion for cooking and serving his community.
Five years ago, Ricky was enrolled in chef instructor Mimi Chacin’s Common Threads Cooking Skills & World Cuisine course as a fourth grader at Carrie P. Meek Westview K-8 Center. Cooking Skills & World Cuisine is Common Threads’ after-school program that engages the tastes and minds of students while exploring the culture and cuisine of different countries. It was in this class that Ricky found his love for cooking and his passion for serving.
The experience from Cooking Skills & World Cuisine was such an inspiration to Ricky that he stepped up to be a volunteer for the program when he entered high school.
“Chef Mimi taught us cooking techniques, such as using the bear claw when mincing, and different tricks and tips in the kitchen,” Ricky said. “I also learned interesting fun facts about healthy foods from different countries around the world.”
Ricky also greatly credits his fourth grade teacher, Teresa Waters-Cain, who shared her special gift and love for teaching and gardening in conjunction with the Common Threads program.
“I love the Common Threads program because of the experience it provides for my kids,” Ms. Waters-Cain said. “Common Threads exposes them to new words, worlds and places. It is a program they will never forget and lessons they will never regret”.
Ricky feels that learning never stops, and even though he is no longer in the program, through volunteering he is still able to learn new things while helping others. Having been a volunteer for a year, Ricky mentioned that some of his favorite parts of volunteering is being able to interact with the students, helping them to learn every lesson he learned and how to best channel their creative energy in the kitchen. Today, Ricky has big plans of attending college and culinary school and dreams of returning to his community here in Miami upon graduation. Thanks to the Cooking Skills & World Cuisine program, Ricky wants to become a local chef and owner of a homeless shelter, serving those who cannot serve themselves.
“I want to help my community and give homeless people a place where they feel they can belong and call home.” Ricky said. “I believe I can achieve my dream through cooking because cooking brings people together, and with cooking I can give people a place to stay and a plate to eat”.
Ms. Waters-Cain is proud of Ricky’s growth since he entered her class and took Cooking Skills & World Cuisine, and Ricky notices a difference too.
“Common Threads helped to break me out of my shell, changing my confidence in myself and in my cooking forever,” Ricky said.
Common Threads was founded in Chicago in 2003 by CEO Linda Novick O’Keefe, celebrity chef Art Smith and his husband, artist Jesus Salgueiro, as a way to bring under-resourced children together, help them celebrate different cultures and teach them about healthy nutrition. From its humble beginnings in a church basement, Common Threads now services children and families in 13 markets, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Pittsburgh, Austin, Jacksonville, San Antonio, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, El Paso and Erie. For more information, visit commonthreads.org, or search #CookingForLife on social media.