When Faith Meets Business and Food: Jeff Cook '16
For Jeff Cook, Food Services Director of Springs Rescue Mission in Colorado Springs, CO, there are three parts that make up his life story—before Christ, after Christ, and understanding what it means to walk in Christ. As a successful businessman who worked in the food services industry for over 25 years, Cook has come to understand and experience the notion that business and faith do not have to be separate.
Cook grew up in a Christian home but, until his young adult years, faked having the faith. He experienced drugs and alcohol, fathered a child out of wedlock, and even dropped out of college. But once he turned to Christ at 25, his life began to take a turn for the best. He married, added two more children to his family; worked in ministry leadership and business for the next 20+ years. Although he had high goals and was very successful, his business life and faith were still not integrated. “I was living for Christ in my head, but not in my heart,” Cook says. Working 80+ hours a week, Cook was burned out and started to establish boundaries with his boss until he eventually left.
It was a Craigslist job post of divine intervention that took him from New Mexico to Colorado to work for Springs Rescue Mission. He knew it was God since his family did not have “a dime to move,” yet moved regardless and were able to live and thrive with no debt. Even with the job that fit him perfectly, Cook saw that he was on a “27-year plan” for his degree when he was introduced to City Vision University.
When Cook talks about City Vision, he says attending was “one of the best decisions I ever made.” Aside from his heart being in nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship, it was the alignment with his values and the values of the Mission that attracted him. “I didn’t have to worry about making it to class,” he laughs. He enjoyed the freedom to complete his coursework anytime, while still being able to watch his children play basketball. In addition to that, every class he took at City Vision fit perfectly with what he needed and when he needed it. In courses like Social Entrepreneurship, Cook was able to build concepts in class and then use them for work, which he noted wasn’t something that usually happened in college. He sees City Vision as being the first higher education institution that fit everything in his life.
Now Cook stands at the intersection of faith, business, and his walk with Christ while all being able to spend time with his family. All 4 of his children are walking with the Lord, 2 are married and have good careers, 1 is in college and 1 starting college next year. Jeff has used his experiences of working as the Food Services Director and heading up a culinary training program Mission Catering Social Entrepreneurial company, to help him create a Work Readiness concept for the entire mission, while continuing to create new social enterprises. The Mission Catering will be showcased at the 2017 PRISM Awards hosted by the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado this March.