LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- This week, a Lexington bakery is hosting a group of 14 people from across the country who want to learn to do what it does.
You’ve probably heard about DV8 Kitchen, a social enterprise restaurant that hires and trains people recovering from addiction.
It’s made national headlines for its model of tackling social issues as an enterprise and now, for the first time, it’s teaching others how to do the same.
Tuesday night, employees shared their work space and their stories with entrepreneurs and non-profit organizers from around the country so those people can try to create their own version of DV8 in their own communities.
Alan Newland, a former employee, shared how DV8 helped him.
“My life had gotten so unmanageable and I was at rock bottom,” Newland said.
Newland, a nurse by trade, couldn’t care for the sick while in recovery.
He got a job at DV8, where he says staff members understood his needs.
“They taught me how to smile. DV8 taught me how to live. DV8 taught me how to interact with normal people,” Newland said.
Rob and Diane Perez created the kitchen to give addicts early in recovery a second chance by training them to work in the bakery.
“We aren’t paid from here. We’re kind of glorified bussers, but this is the most rewarding vocational experience that my wife and I have ever had,” Rob Perez said.
They wanted to share it. So, for the first time ever, they’re hosting the Soulful Enterprise Workshop, a two day behind the scenes look at what they do and how others can implement it.
Tanya Dickinson came from Louisville, wanting to open a social enterprise around beaded jewelry.
“It speaks to the programs and people we work with,” Dickinson said of the conference.
The program’s participants hopes the enterprises they create will help people like Newland, who is back to nursing, after creating a strong foundation at DV8.
“I hope DV8 stays around for a long, long time because there are a lot of people out there that need this opportunity I was given,” Newland said.
Perez says he does want to try to offer similar educational programs for others every few months. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can stay up to date with DV8’s plans here.