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“Nationals October 2019

The Light House’s Director of Culinary Services retires after nearly a decade of service

| September 01, 2020, 01:44 PM

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Chef Linda Vogler (center) in 2018 with B.E.S.T. Culinary students in The Light House’s community kitchen.

After almost a decade of service to The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center in Annapolis, Chef Linda Vogler retired from her position as Director of Culinary Services on August 31st, 2020. During her tenure at The Light House, Chef Linda—a brilliant cook, dedicated culinary instructor, and compassionate advocate for those in need—has tirelessly championed the organization’s efforts to serve our most vulnerable neighbors.

Chef Linda began her culinary career after earning a culinary arts certification from Horry-Georgetown Technical College and being certified as an executive chef by the American Culinary Federation. After working as an executive chef for 10 years, she founded the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, which is still operating today. She began her work with The Light House in 2011, just after their new building at 10 Hudson Street opened. The new 24,000 square foot facility quadrupled the number of residents the organization could serve and enabled the expansion of their outreach programs. To best make use of this space, Chef Linda’s hard work and vision was instrumental in building up the organization’s food and employment training programs to better meet the needs of vulnerable community members. With the help of dedicated volunteers and staff, Chef Linda transformed the new commercial kitchen, community dining area, and food pantry space into a bustling and vibrant atmosphere for good.

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Year round at the organization, Chef Linda has been the cornerstone of keeping The Light House community fed. Her leadership has ensured that hot meals and bagged lunches are provided to hundreds of community members and residents each day, and that thousands of pounds of pantry items are donated to the The Light House, organized, and then distributed out to food insecure neighbors each week. Last year alone, The Light House distributed over 51,000 bagged lunches, served over 38,000 hot meals, and distributed 196,000 pounds of healthy pantry items.

Chef Linda was also the driving force in the development of The Light House’s Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.) Culinary Arts program, which gives a second chance to individuals who suffer from significant employment barriers. Open to both Light House residents and community clients, the B.E.S.T. Culinary Arts Training program provides technical training, soft skills, and wraparound services to get community members back on their feet and ready to start a career in the culinary industry.

Since the first class graduated in 2012, Chef Linda has instructed 24 cohorts and has trained and mentored over 220 students, providing them with the skills and encouragement needed to succeed. When B.E.S.T. Culinary Arts graduate, Rebecca, spoke at her graduation in 2018, she stated that being a part of The Light House and B.E.S.T. Program was “one of the best decisions I had made in a long time.…Chef Linda was a calm and guiding force who showed me the true meaning of the word integrity.”

Chef Linda’s leadership also enabled the culinary program to continue to grow to new heights, starting with small catering jobs and culminating in the 2017 opening of Light House Bistro, a 50-seat full services restaurant and catering social enterprise. Light House Bistro, located in downtown Annapolis at the site of the organization’s original shelter, provides training and job opportunities for graduates of Light House programs, with over 80% of its staff having struggled with employment barriers.

As she retires from her position at The Light House, Chef Linda leaves an extraordinary legacy of service and exemplifies what it means to care for others and build a stronger community. Executive Director of The Light House, Jo Ann Mattson, states that “the number of lives that Chef Linda has impacted is incalculable. She has guided, loved, and fed our Light House community with her whole heart these past 9 years. She will be greatly missed by all of us. We thank her from the bottom of our hearts and wish her all the best in her retirement.”

If you would like to honor Chef Linda’s service to the community, she has asked that donations of food be made to The Light House pantry. These donations will help continue to feed food insecure individuals and families as The. Light House sees an increase in neighbors seeking assistance due to the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Please visit www.annapolislighthouse.org/needs to see the items that are needed and donation guidelines.

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