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Chef Andre Rush has cooked for four presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — but his community connections brought him to Sacramento.

Prior to being honored at the State Capitol for raising awareness about veteran suicide, the combat veteran stopped by Saint John’s Program for Real Change to meet with some women going through their own battles.

“Women going through domestic violence, drugs, rehabilitation with their kids and so forth,” Rush said. “They need that encouragement and I want to be a part of that with them.”

Ariel B. has been living at the center with her children since leaving a violent relationship nine months ago. Now, she’s a proud member of the Plates program, which trains the formerly homeless Saint John’s residents in job skills and culinary arts.

“I always loved to cook and I remember doing a guest chef dinner, my first guest chef dinner. And I remember going to the supply closet to grab a mop and I just was overcome with these tears of joy. And I’m like, ‘This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life,'” she said.

She took Rush on a tour of the Saint John’s campus which serves up to 270 women and children a day.

The goal of their 18-month live-in program is to offer not just a safe space, and job skills, but emotional services and other practical life skills to help them become self-sufficient.

Rush says he’s the one who left inspired.

“This blows my mind,” he said. “It’s absolutely incredible.”