How Marcellus is Succeeding Through Cooking and Creativity

How Marcellus is Succeeding Through Cooking and Creativity


As a child, Marcellus Colon remembers his mother giving him sweet bell peppers while dancing to Michael Jackson. That fond memory sparked a passion for cooking and creativity that continues today. From painting to food, presentation is a key ingredient in each of his artistic offerings. “Anybody can cook,” he notes, “but…to bring it out and make it look good is my greatest passion.”

Unfortunately, challenges with substance use could have hindered Marcellus from presenting his talents to the world. Though he attended college at Miami International University of Art and Design, he began to accrue criminal charges related to these challenges, altering his life’s course.

Artwork by Marcellus Colon, participant at The Fortune Society

“For quite some time, I got high because that’s what I wanted to do. It wasn’t like I couldn’t get myself together. I could. But I just wanted to get high, which is a selfish reason.”


Finally, a move to New York spearheaded a deep desire to change. Now, he is receiving substance use treatment from Samaritan Daytop Village. It is there that he learned about The Fortune Society and enrolled in its Employment Services program. Through culinary arts classes, his love for creativity is sparked again. With it are pathways to building a life-sustaining future.

“One thing that I picked up [at Fortune] was that my past didn’t define me…,” Marcellus shares, “I’m 44, so sometimes I think, ‘Man, I’m not 18 anymore.’ And Fortune did that. Fortune reminded me that I need a career.”


As soon as Marcellus stepped into Fortune, he knew it was a place where he belonged. Being around people who looked like him and shared his experiences made the possibility of success more evident.

“The first thing that I noticed [at Fortune] was I couldn’t decipher the staff from the [participants], which to me was a plus because it made me feel relaxed. It made me feel like I was amongst friends.”


In a welcoming atmosphere, Marcellus is working hard to prepare for the next chapter in his life. Mock interviewing, a key part of Fortune’s employment success preparation, gave him constructive criticism to increase his appeal to prospective employers. Plus, he obtained certifications with the New York City Department of Health, further placing him on a path to a successful culinary career.

Equipped with new tools, Marcellus dreams of opening up a café and gallery space that will combine his love of food with visual art. His dream space will also have a social component that can help others the way Fortune has helped him:

“I want [my café] to sponsor a lot of different artists, but mainly children that are in a foster situation. Or less fortune children that put artwork together, who can draw and put some stuff together, so they know they have a direction.”


Walking in a new direction of his own, Marcellus’ future and talents have never looked more promising.

Through The Fortune Society's Food & Nutrition and Employment Services programs, Marcellus is turning his passion for cooking and art in to a successful career.

Don’t miss stories like this—Subscribe to the Fortune Weekly today.

*Written by Root Stitches LLC

Share this Event
Learn how Fortune Society can help you