The ripple effect

Our view : OSI has brought positive change to Baltimore

May 13, 2008

Tyrone Lewis had two passions - being a cook and drugs. Hooked on heroin for 15 years, the Baltimore native traces the start of his addiction to a shot of hard liquor given to him when he was 7 by his grandfather. He managed to get and keep - at least for a while - a series of cooking jobs. But he readily admits that "drugs always came first."

Now 45, Mr. Lewis has been clean for four years and serves as the kitchen manager for the Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden. He is also the lead apprentice for Chefs in the Making, a culinary training program for recovering addicts, ex-offenders and the homeless started by Dogwood co-owners Galen and Bridget Sampson. Mr. Sampson, a five-star chef who worked previously at the Harbor Court Hotel, nurtured the idea for the program while spending time as a community fellow with the Open Society Institute - Baltimore in 2006.

During OSI's 10 years here, it has tackled some of the city's most persistent challenges, including drug addiction, the high costs of incarceration and helping young people stay on track to become scholars and leaders. By incubating programs and giving grants to social entrepreneurs, OSI has helped make the case for more drug treatment and for providing job training for ex-offenders, among other things.

Through OSI, Mr. Sampson has met experts in case management and addiction recovery who can help ensure that his apprentices will be successful. And with Mr. Sampson as his mentor, Mr. Lewis is looking forward to enhancing his skills as Chefs in the Making continues to grow - another positive ripple for Baltimore from OSI and compelling reason to support its continued presence here.

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