The immigrant's daughter helps the refugees find their American dream


"They came here with opportunities," said Brodie, "but they have always felt such gratitude in the United States."

At the same time, Brody heard stories about the persecutions his grandparents suffered during the Holocaust, the members of their family who were their ultimate survival was also killed.

Inspired by the history of her family, Brodie says she always felt the sense of responsibility to help people build new lives and gain access to the American dream.

Today, the 28-year-old uses cooking to do just that.

Brodie is the founder of the Torch of Emma, ​​a nonprofit company that provides gastronomic training to refugees and links them to kitchens in restaurants.
Until recently, the US has historically installed more refugees than any other country – about 3 million since 1980.

However, in their new communities, refugees often face many barriers, including language barriers and difficulties in accessing services. Even if they have advanced training or high-level skills, most are only able to get entry jobs.

"Many times, they just fall from the cracks," said Brodie. "The existence of a young adult at a time when we see one of the worst refugees' crises in modern history has given me the feeling that it is time to really make a difference."

Brody started the non-profit institution in 2017 after his move to New York and attending a cooking school. It was named its organization for the writer Emma Lazarus, whose poem is registered at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

"We have students who have escaped political unrest, … students who are the only survivors of their families," said Brody, whose non-profit also helps asylum seekers and survivors of trafficking in human beings.

The group has a Brooklyn restaurant and café at the Brooklyn Public Library's central store, where students listen to their skills during the 12-week program.

"I really wanted to make sure that the students were given real training at the workplace," said Brodie.

Students spend the first month learning basic food preparation techniques and food safety guidelines. After that, they work at different restaurant stations, learning cooking methods like baking, baking and baking. In the third month, they receive barista training and learn how to receive orders and interact with customers.

In addition, they receive English-language courses adapted to the kitchen and cooking industry and later make false interviews and interviews with industry professionals.

About 50 students have graduated from the program, who have specialization in restaurant jobs as line cooks.

For Brodie, the goal is to put graduates on a path of upward mobility.

"When our students graduate, we help them find a full-time job that helps them start their new career," he said.

The non-profit organization has the support of high quality restaurants across the city that Brodie says is willing to hire graduates.

"I hope every one of my students can go there and dream a little longer and believe he has the right to follow these dreams," he said.

CNN's Laura Klairmont spoke to Brodie about her work. Below is a version of their conversation.

CNN: What are the obstacles your students face?

Kerry Brodie: We work with a very different population. The experience of being a refugee can actually be isolated because you are in a new place and leave behind many of what you already knew. Our students have gone through things I could not understand and face many challenges. We ask people to adapt to a new country, a new culture, and really sink or swim. We must make sure that we give people the opportunity to swim. But there are often very limited resources for this type of opportunity.

CNN: What inspired you to start a culinary program for refugees?

Brodie: I'm working on the Human Rights Campaign, I'm learning more and more about the shipbuilders who came to this country and the refugee crisis in general. It was in 2016 when Alan Kurdi's photo was presented in all the news. And they really forced people to think about the 65 million people displaced today all over the world. At the same time, I volunteered on a homeless shelter and I became more and more involved in ways in which we could use food to do more than just feed people. It could be a way of empowering people.

Food is this great equalizer. It is something that has very low entry barriers when it comes to language skills. And it is an area where upward mobility is possible. Only in New York culinary work represents a large proportion of jobs, but restaurants are struggling to cover their kitchens with highly trained people and have difficulty retaining their staff. There are so many openings that have not been completed because access to trained people living in these places was really limited.

CNN Hero Kerry Brodie

Ultimately, we are not just about the development of the workforce, we are about empowering – making sure that our students understand that they are not victims and that what they create and do has inherent value. We are very excited to offer our students access to jobs, but also the opportunity to show their identity and to see that it is welcome here, that it strengthens our community. (They) are people who have different experiences, who have different ideas for flavors and culture and can help restaurants feel more and more inspired.

CNN: How does the program help acquire graduate careers in industry?

Brodie: Initially in the program, students also discuss their career goals. They ask them where they want to be in five years and start planning a career plan. All of our team is really dedicated to how we can create an environment where our students can grow and grow. We find ways to work with them as individuals, to recognize that everyone has a different story and that everyone has a different career and just find ways to be more sensitive to it. By the time the students graduate, we know what their hopes and dreams are.

We have an amazing restaurant board and chef and people in the industry who are really dedicated to helping our students achieve these dreams. It is a partnership. We provide ongoing guidance, so when you have a question about the job, a question about starting a new business, you know you can reach out to us. It's really about building a network. We strive to be a constant source of support and understanding. Our students start with a real sense of family and community.

Do you want to get involved? check it The Emma Torch website and see how to help.

To donate to Emma's lens, click the CrowdRise widget below.