‘Bringing Smiles One Meal At A Time’
It’s high noon at The Salvation Army Family Haven on a cold January day, and like clockwork, the savory smell of a hearty soup fills the foyer and the hallways. Accompanying that aroma are the sounds of kitchen utensils clacking and parents and their children hoarding into the dining room. Meanwhile in the midst of it all stands Zsaqui Jones, lead cook at The Salvation Army Family Haven, working tirelessly putting finishing touches onto the meal she’s providing for residents.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”I’m trying to make everything perfect for the clients” said Zsaqui Jones, Salvation Army Family Haven cook.[/quote]
Jones has deep roots within The Salvation Army and a long history in the kitchen. Jones says her father once served many years at The Salvation Army in Mobile working in the kitchen and as luck would have it she followed in his footsteps. Prior to
joining The Salvation Army, Jones served as a cook for The University of South Alabama and before that, Mobile Public Schools. Serving meals for others has been a passion for her ever since she first learned how to cook, a skill she actually developed later in life. She says the kitchen was sacred ground in her household growing up. Jones’ mom and grandmother often brushed her and just about anyone else out of the kitchen while they cooked. I didn’t know how to cook growing up. When I first got my place, everything was microwavable, from steaks to macaroni and cheese, but then I just got in the kitchen and started really learning” said Jones.
Jones would often bring dishes to her church and after noticing the positive reception to her cooking, she’d often invite people over for dinner. After a while, Jones’ realized her newfound skill was fast becoming her passion.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”I sing to my food. I put my heart into what I do and I think it shows” said Jones.[/quote]
Jones has been the lead cook at The Salvation Army Family Haven for three months since the facility reopened in October 2015, but within that short span of time, her passion for cooking has touched Family Haven residents. I’d always hear them say, oooh Ms. Jones, that was so good, and that’s what let me know I’m doing a good job” said Jones.
Most importantly, Jones serves a critical role at The Salvation Army Family Haven. Many homeless families who make their way into the Family Haven do so for a variety of unenviable circumstances. Some of the families are escaping abusive environments, others experienced job loss and were living on the streets. In most cases, the families are not used to regular warm, nutritious meals. Jones feels despite their situation and road to recovery, at least for a few minutes out of their day, once these families walk into the dining room, she can put a smile on their faces with her vibrate personality and good food she prepares.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”That’s what makes me happy every day, making them smile and happy” said Jones.[/quote]