Simaira Anderson first came to Omaha's Hope Center for Kids as a volunteer. Her daughter and son were active in the after school program.
"It's challenged my children, it's built their character," she said in an interview with WOWT 6 News. "It's a place where they feel safe, and they can unite with other friends and continue to encourage each other."
Now Simaira has an appointment every weekday afternoon with all the young students at the Hope Center. She became the head chef two years ago.
"It's more than a job, it's definitely ministry to me," she said. "I get to reach out to kids who are in places where I have been."
Simaira grew up in North Omaha and graduated from Omaha North High School. She has a heart for the kids who line up for a warm meal at 4:30 every weekday afternoon.
"It's batch cooking for over a hundred," said the graduate of the Metro Community College Culinary Arts program. "It's a good three hours every day to prepare the food. I know a majority of their names when they come through. They are eager to help me after dinner, they'll ask if they can help wipe the tables down, help pick up trash."
Simaira has a full plate herself. Along with the daily duties in the Hope Center kitchen, she's continuing her education with more classes at Metro..
"Now I'm going back to school, I'm tossed up between food science and marketing."
Simaira plans to eventually compete her studies with a degree at UNO.
With all that going on, her motivation remains the same: "Someone mentored me to help grow me so I'm giving back to what I've been given."
For more information on the Hope Center for Kids click the link included with this story.