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Ian puts his Culinary Skills to Work at London Youth for Christ's "Café Connect"
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Ian puts his Culinary Skills to Work at London Youth for Christ’s “Café Connect”

To some it has become a new local café at an affordable price. For others it is a place for connecting with friends or business associates. For Youth for Christ, it is an opportunity to empower youth who have employment barriers with practical skills while discovering their full potential in Christ. For Ian, London Youth for Christ’s “Café Connect” was an opportunity to flourish! Here is what Ian had to say.

“What many people see is an average young man with a lanky build who probably should be playing basketball in the courts at YFC. However, just like magic, looks can be deceiving. I have autism, an anxiety disorder and a learning disability. I don’t like telling people that because they brand you and think you’re stupid and incapable of achieving anything. Also, sometimes when I talk, words can come out up mixed … which leads to comical events. But I join in the laughter because it generally is funny.

Ian puts his Culinary Skills to Work at London Youth for Christ’s “Café Connect” In my darkest days – the winters of 2004 & 2005 – I had complete breakdowns. Again I don’t like mentioning it. But my rock and my hero, my mother, prayed. She prayed to keep herself sane, because apparently I was a handful, and to keep me and my Dad on an even keel. Prayer kept the whole family on track. Eventually at high school, I accepted what life had thrown at me and I began to thrive.

A couple of years ago, my Mom came home from work one day and said there’s a cafe opening at YFC. She decided that her son would like to volunteer there one day a week.

You see, in high school, I trained in the culinary field and had hoped to make this my career choice. At the time, I had no idea how much everyone idolized Gordon Ramsey’s TV persona with his rude, crass and explosive behaviour. I had tried some unsuccessful placements in the food industry which made me very hesitant to try another one.

So I arrived at YFC not completely sold on the idea that it would work out. However, within a couple of luncheons, I realized these were good, decent people and to my surprise, I liked it. So much so, that I now volunteer an average of 3 times a week as well as working in paid positions during catering opportunities.

It has not only given me something to do, being at YFC has boosted my confidence and honed my skills in the culinary field. Physically and mentally I’m proud of the new boundaries I’ve been able to accomplish.

For our Thanksgiving dinner just a couple of weeks ago, we provided a full, traditional turkey dinner with dessert and coffee or tea. We had over 150 people. At the end of the evening, I was hot and tired. Then I heard that one Mom with three kids say that this is the only place she could take her family out to dinner. This meal was like dining at The Ritz for her. Plus she didn’t have to cook or clean up – instead I did! When I heard her story, it made the whole evening worthwhile.

Therefore, YFC has not only empowered me, it empowers hundreds of youth and families in the community.”


As YFC’s Café Connect continues to grow in the Glen Cairn Community, it is the safe space and conversations that are transforming lives. Yes, the food is amazing. However, it is the love of Jesus being experienced in a tangible way that is bringing love and hope to our wonderful neighbours.

Click HERE for more information on London Youth for Christ’s “Café Connect”.