SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A manager at a Sacramento bakery credits the Salvation Army with helping him turn his life around when he was at a low point.

“For the last like 20 years it was alcohol, alcohol, alcohol, alcohol, and a lot of burned relationships and a lot of burned jobs and it was rough. It was never really set. It was always up and down, up and down, up and down,” Grateful Bread manager Ryan Hardesty said.

Hardesty said the Salvation Army put him on an upward path to finding a steady job and a fiance that’s lasted three years.

“I found the Salvation Army and I found their program. And I started that in February 2019. I went through that and it changed my life,” Hardesty said.

Hardesty said completing the Salvation Army’s Culinary Arts Program became his goal after first getting sober at the religious charity’s Adult Rehabilitation Center.

The training is intended to give students the fundamentals to secure an entry-level job in food service but it was clear to one instructor at the Culinary Arts Program that though Hardesty was still battling his addiction he was interested in something more.

“So when he got into this program, he was working through a lot of that stuff, but he really, he really put in the effort that was needed for the program. A lot of the individuals sometimes if they’re not— their heart isn’t into culinary,” said Hardesty’s former instructor. “…The individuals who have that drive, who have that passion to really push themselves to that next level, this is a perfect opportunity to really give them a chance to get their feet back under them and to gain a little bit of that self-confidence again and begin to make those moves in a positive direction.”

The woman who was there when Hardesty’s journey into recovery started said the change in him has been amazing.

“Just to watch the growth and transformation and realize that he was really loving himself and being proud of who he was,” said Hardesty’s fiance.

The Big Day of Giving 2022, a day benefitting organizations including the Salvation Army that is put on by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, takes place on May 5.