Today we’d like to introduce you to Meredith Davis.
Meredith, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
In 2019, the senior pastor of St. Luke’s, Dr. Tom Pace, felt it was time to hold a capital campaign that focused on making a positive impact in the city. After months of research, a committee landed on the desire to bring a unique workforce development program to Houston. The chosen model is one used in many cities across the country: a workforce development training program in a culinary setting. With the help, trust, and support of many, PX Project became a reality.
We launched our board of directors and hired Adam Garcia, our Executive Chef & Director of Operations, in March 2020. The Covid shutdown happened days later so we pivoted to partnering with reVision Houston to provide over 9,000 lunches to young people in Gulfton/Sharpstown that typically depended on school meals. Despite the shutdown, we knew the needs of the community were not able to pause. So, in September of 2020, we began with our first cohort of fellows. This July, we will graduate our fourth cohort, and number five will begin in August.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
If the road were smooth, the work likely wouldn’t be necessary. So no, of course not. For one thing, starting a non-profit in the middle of a global pandemic was quite a decision! But perhaps more important than ever. And I wouldn’t do it differently.
We work with young people that are often required to function in a constant state of emergency. They have to think about where their next meal will come from and how they will pay a bill. Being able to contemplate long-term goals or outcomes is a luxury they are rarely afforded. Therefore, moving into this mindset when considering a career path is a shift that can be very difficult to make.
Nine out of twelve of our fellows have been refugees & immigrants from all over the world. We quickly found that much of their understanding of the US was misguided, to no fault of their own. They gathered most of their information from television and movies, which depicted a much different reality than the one they experienced upon arrival. The PX Project staff works diligently to deconstruct the misunderstandings and reconstruct a more accurate reality infused with hope and possibility.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
PX Project is not the first of its kind, but it is the first in Houston. We utilize the culinary & hospitality lens to teach employability skills to young adults looking to enter the workforce.
We are not a culinary school; our graduates can enter into any field of their choosing. And our holistic approach sets us apart as we include social/emotional health and financial literacy in our curriculum. We also have the unique opportunity to practice skills in real time as we serve meals, cater events, and very soon will have a full cafe that the fellows will help run.
Part of our mission is to give young people a place to learn and hone skills that will serve them regardless of the career path they choose. We pay our fellows for their full-time work, giving them a space to learn while still helping sustain their families. It is a place to discover talents and skills, and figure out how to make those gifts work for you long-term.
Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Have coffee. I often find it’s hard for me to step away from my desk for a chat. It can feel frivolous or wasteful. But nine times out of ten, it either (re)connects me to someone from whom I needed to hear, or it helps me take a deep breath to refocus my day.
- Website: www.pxproject.org
- Instagram: @pxprojecthouston
- Facebook: @pxprojecthouston
Sean Archibong (CS Visuals)