In August, Rick Carter sent an email to his former Wilmington University professors and alumni relations staff. He thanked them for their support as he endeavored to create The Hospitality School, a nonprofit agency where youth and adults deemed at risk could complete a workforce development training program in the culinary arts. “I cannot emphasize enough [how] the quality education prepared me for where I am today,” he wrote. After surviving a variety of challenges, he explained, The Hospitality School would soon celebrate its three-year anniversary.
Being grateful and persistent are two lessons Carter learned at both Wilmington University and in life. Carter, who earned his psychology degree in December of 2011 and master’s in administration of human services (AHS) in December of 2013, remembers the advice he received from Professor Johanna Bishop. “It was one of the first courses I took in 2010, when I returned to Wilmington University to complete my degree, and I was ready to throw in the towel,” he says. “Professor Bishop said, ‘Stick with me. You can do this.’ And I did. That course sparked my love for research and helped me hone my writing skills.”
Drawing on his professional background in hotel and restaurant management, he started The Hospitality School as a student in the AHS program. “I’m passionate about helping people, but didn’t know how to go about doing it until Dr. Adrienne Bey, the chair of the AHS program, suggested I start my own nonprofit.
I used my grant writing skills to tell the story of my agency.” His goal is to teach life skills, not just culinary arts. “I
His goal is to teach life skills, not just culinary arts. “I run the school as a workplace so that students not only learn technical skills in the kitchen,” says Carter, “but also the skills necessary to be successful on the job.”
To garner funding for The Hospitality School, Carter started Pineapple Catering, which specializes in corporate and social catering. Proceeds in part support the expenses of running the school. Guests at WilmU’s annual Green and White Scholarship Ball have savored its fare.
Starting a nonprofit was Carter’s dream. His graduate courses gave him the foundation. “I learned about logic models, grant administration and evaluation from my AHS courses,” he says. “On a yearly basis, my staff and I do planning and evaluation. I see a grant as an investment in the school and track outcomes diligently. I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I learned from them.” He credits his psychology degree with providing the interpersonal skills needed to work with diverse students.
Carter hopes that funds from Pineapple Catering will provide scholarships and living stipends to young people who are in training at The Hospitality School. He also wants to open a state-of-the-art culinary facility that offers contract food services.
“I can’t heal the whole world,” he says, “so I need to focus on my nonprofit and make a difference. But I do have big plans for the future.” WU