[By Tina Koyama in Seattle] Back in September, a friend invited me to join her and a few other friends at the FareStart restaurant for her birthday celebration. Seattle has many restaurants, but FareStart is different. A life and job skills program, FareStart trains homeless and other disadvantaged people in the food service industry so that they can become self-sufficient. All proceeds from meals served at the FareStart restaurant go back into the program to support job training and placement.
On Thursday evenings, a guest chef creates a menu from ingredients donated by local farmers and businesses, and the program’s students prepare it under the chef’s guidance. Aside from the fantastic meal, the highlight of the evening was the graduation ceremony, when the current graduates of the 16-week program were honored. Sketching frantically to capture the 10-minute ceremony, I was impressed and moved by the graduates’ stories as they talked about how far they had come to overcome personal struggles and finally succeed.
Fast-forward to January, when I was contacted by FareStart. Finding my sketch of the graduation ceremony online, they wanted permission to use it in a book to be published for the program’s 25th anniversary. Of course I was happy to let them use the sketch, but honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with the sketch – it was very hastily done while leaning over a railing in a dimly lit room, craning my neck to see the graduates from a distance. I asked if they could wait for the weather to improve so that I could go back to the FareStart restaurant for more sketching. I remembered that tall windows on one side of the building enabled a perfect view from the sidewalk of the students working in the kitchen.
The weather improvement I had been waiting for finally came. I timed my visit for when the students would be busy with lunch service today. Moving fast, they were definitely a challenge to sketch, but the windows gave me just the view I wanted.
Famished from all my hard work, I went inside and treated myself to lunch. Unlike many sketchers, I don’t ever draw a meal before devouring it; I’m always too hungry for that. But I felt like this story about the FareStart program wouldn’t be complete without showing one of the delicious lunch entrees they serve up every weekday. Somehow I ignored my grumbling stomach while I finished a sketch of my smoked fish tacos served with “fire roasted tomato salsa, lime slaw, avocado, served with roasted poblano and black bean salad.” Yummmm.