Jesus came to Just Bakery through the Huber program, a work-release arrangement which allowed him to leave jail on a daily basis to attend class.  He first became interested in Just Bakery because he wanted to learn how to bake banana bread; but he assumed that it would be just a series of lectures and videos, where students would take notes on how to bake.  However, he was completely surprised when, during his first week of class, Jesus learned baker’s math, food safety, food science, and life skills in the classroom; and began hands-on training on commercial equipment in the kitchen.  It was more than he had bargained for, and he was hooked.

Jesus’ life has been full of surprises and unexpected adventures.  Born in Cuba, he thought he would live there forever, so that he could be near his parents and extended family.  However, he began to chafe under the repressive regime, where “police will arrest you anytime they want.”  The final straw came when the government passed the “estado peligroso” law, which allowed them arrest people who looked potentially dangerous, but who had not actually committed a crime.  They arrested Jesus and imprisoned him for two years.  While incarcerated, Jesus worked and “was paid like a regular employee,” and a job-release program similar to the Huber system.

After being released from jail in Cuba, Jesus boarded a boat to Miami.  When he arrived, he was placed in a refugee camp with other Cubans, who had to await sponsorship from an American before they were allowed to leave the camp.  Jesus was sponsored by Good Shephard Lutheran Church, who helped him find housing and connected him with a job as a dishwasher at Max Big Boy.  The easy days were the ones when the sole Spanish-speaking co-worker, a Columbian, was there and could translate for Jesus.  However, the Columbian quit, and Jesus was left to try to understand his English-speaking co-workers on his own.  After two years as a dishwasher, Jesus quit and moved on.

Over the next few years, Jesus concentrated on school.  He enrolled in a work-study program to learn English, and then enrolled at MATC to study liberal arts and electronic technology.  Now, four decades after immigrating to the United States, Jesus is fluent in English and has four children, ranging in ages from fourteen to twenty-seven.  He is almost finished with his training at Just Bakery, and is looking for a part-time job in the baking field.  The most important thing that he has learned from Just Bakery is how to keep food safe: now he knows “not to put hot food in the fridge” and how to prevent time-temperature abuse.

…by Diana G…

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