2014 ESL Jefferson Award Winner: James Caldwell

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James Caldwell (Chef James) is a retired chef and current volunteer at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in the Culinary Arts Program.

He has acted as an advisor and a mentor for many students in the program who have needed guidance. Chef James is a 1997 graduate of REOC’s Food Service program and has been working at the facility since July 2012. In addition to his culinary work, James also conducts workshops on Life Skills, Behavior Change and Anger Management at the Monroe County Jail. James’ support and dedication for at-risk youth has led to immense growth for many of his mentees.

In 2002, James created Just Your Concerned Citizens of Rochester, Inc., an organization that collects funds to help those with criminal records and those recently released from prison. His ultimate goal is to open a half-way house. James’ passion for his craft as well as his devotion for helping others, are important and admirable traits worth celebrating.