Flourish of Cullman participants celebrate graduation from eight-week cooking class with Party Night

Julie Webb, Stormi Brock, Isaac Johnson, Taylor Auston, Matthew Mahan, Jeanette Rozema (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Clients from Flourish of Cullman participated in a Cooking Class at Childhaven for the last eight weeks, learning different cooking skills and kitchen safety. Flourish is dedicated to teaching disabled individuals ways they can live more independently. This class was the second rotation of cooking classes with Flourish. Executive Director Melissa Dew said, “We have had individuals that already live independently and some that live with family or in group homes and want to be more independent with this skill in their homes.”

She discussed the goals of the classes, saying, “We wanted to provide a service that could help an individual in our program in two ways through the cooking class—one, becoming more independent in preparing meals for their self in a safe way; two, we are looking for hidden talent for employment. The first 1-2 classes consist of learning what the participants already know or do not know about cooking and being in the kitchen. Also, teaching them kitchen basics, reading and understanding recipes and, most importantly, teaching them kitchen safety before starting to cook. Then it progresses in difficulty culminating with them cooking a meal for their family.”

Topics covered included cleaning skills, appliance safety, understanding quantities and measurements, apps for online grocery shopping, pickup, delivery or price checking, items that can be eaten uncooked or what needs to be cooked, understanding use by and best buy dates, understanding food expiration, kitchen setups and cleanups, adapting or changing recipes, gathering ingredients and cooking supplies, adapting the kitchen to fit their needs and simple meals that can include five ingredients or more minor or noncooked recipes. 

During the classes, the group cooked sub sandwiches, no bake desserts, quesadillas, personal pizzas and ended with a Party Night for their graduation where they made pigs-in-a-blanket, deep dish pizza bites, roll ups and chocolate covered strawberries. The class could invite their friends and family to enjoy the meal and attend the small graduation ceremony where they received certificates showing they demonstrated the ability to make several new dishes on their own.

Class instructor Jessica Fox said that the group quickly became close friends. “The first two or three cooking classes, when we sat down to eat, it was dead silent, but after that they became really close and talking non-stop the whole night.”

The students were sent home with dinner, lunch and snack recipes for them to try at home.

In their classes, the six students easily compromised over who would make each dish. They all congratulated and complimented each other on their individual achievements while helping each other as a team. Jessica granted extra awards for categories in which each student excelled in.


Helping and Encouraging Others – Stormi Brock

Friendliest – Stormi Brock

Perfect Attendance – Taylor Auston

Most Organized – Julie Webb

Most Hygienic and Cleaning Skills – Jeanette Rozema

Perfect Attendance – Isaac Jackson

Most Positive Attitude – Isaac Jackson

Perfect Attendance – Matthew Mahan

Thanking Others – Matthew Mahan

Dew said that clients are always excited about the cooking class. “Everyone always asks when is the next one because a friend told them it was so much fun. They enjoy showing off how much they learned, and cooking for their family is the best.”

For information on how to attend one of Flourish of Cullman’s Cooking Classes, contact the Flourish office at 256-735-4186.

Jessica Fox presenting Taylor Auston with certificate of completion (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

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