Have you ever wondered how helping another person can cause a ripple effect of positive impact? In this heartfelt episode of Add Passion and Stir, host Billy Shore and guests celebrity chef Curtis Stone and attorney and foster care advocate Miles Cooley discuss the far-reaching effects that occur when we act as an advocate for people in need. Cooley, who experienced profound neglect as a young child and lost his mother at age five, grew up in the foster care system in California. “The great part of my story, and why I think an advocate can make such a difference, is there was a school psychologist…who took an interest in me. Her name is Leslie Cooley and she is the woman I now call Mom.” Stone has seen an advocate make an impact in his own family. “It’s really unbelievable, isn’t it? … It’s just that one decision a person makes to say ‘I’ll give a damn about this person and I’ll actually go out on a bit of limb,’” he says. He recounts the story of his own mother-in-law, a Korean War orphan who lived on the streets of Korea for five or six years following the war and then was adopted by an American family. “If it wasn’t for that family deciding to adopt this little girl from Korea, my wife wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t have met her and my kids wouldn’t exist,” ponders Stone.
In addition to being a long-time Share Our Strength supporter, Stone – who owns two restaurants in Los Angeles (Maude and Gwen) – works with Chrysalis, an organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals. For Stone, this provides an opportunity to impact individuals in need by mentoring. “We employed our first Chrysalis employee at the restaurant four years ago as a dishwasher. He’s now a supervisor, he looks after 15 employees,” says Stone. Recently, he shared the Chrysalis story with other leaders in the restaurant industry and says there are already six or seven who have begun working with them. For Cooley, paying it forward is part of his DNA. “Having come from a foster care experience…once I was in a position to think outside myself and had the wherewithal, it was a forgone conclusion that I was going to be invested and involved in trying to help kids who came up like I did,” he explains. He works with a number of organizations that advocate for foster kids including John Burton Advocates, Peace4Kids, and First Star.
Listen to this authentic and powerful conversation that will make you consider the far-reaching effects of advocating for someone less fortunate.