BRADENTON, FL – On March 7, Bryan Jacobs, an advisor on Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program team, spoke at the South Florida Veteran Entrepreneurship Forum in Miami. Organized by Vetpreneur, an organization created to support and empower veterans in entrepreneurial endeavors, the event showcased firsthand accounts of the U.S. military veteran entrepreneur experience.
Jacobs, a veteran of the Navy and founder of Vets2Success, discussed the initial challenges he faced when creating the organization and how it has grown since its inception. Vets2Success is a not-for-profit that creates opportunities for veterans to reintegrate and find meaningful employment through food and brew programs. Jacobs founded Vets2Success after the loss of his younger brother – a veteran of the Marines – to suicide as well as to address his own personal struggles with reintegration back into civilian life after two tours in Iraq. His goal was to inspire, mentor, educate, and change the lives of homeless and displaced veterans.
After discovering a passion for the culinary arts, Jacobs attended culinary school in Virginia; upon graduating, he had the opportunity to work with renowned chefs, including Hans Schadler and Master Chef Peter Timmins. He later attended University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality while acting as the executive chef for the Anheuser-Busch family.
In 2014, Jacobs created Vets2Success as a way to teach veterans new skills and provide them with a path to a new purpose in life through culinary arts and innovation. In 2017, Goodwill Manasota collaborated with Jacobs to tailor a pilot program of Vets2Success, called “Vet2Chef,” to the needs of homeless veterans. Later that year, Jacobs joined the Veterans Services Team full-time as an advisor for Goodwill’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP).
“It was an honor to participate in the inaugural South Florida Veteran Entrepreneurship Forum,” said Jacobs. “There are so many opportunities for dynamic partnerships in our area and being able to share my experience as a ‘vetrepreneur’ with those interested in creating similar paths for themselves was a great experience.”
Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program was created to help eliminate barriers to employment, provide opportunities for higher-paying positions for veterans and their families, and connect veterans with needed social services. The HVRP, which is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, helps to reintegrate homeless veterans into meaningful employment within the labor force and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems that address the complex problems facing homeless veterans and their families. For more information, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721, ext. 451.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2017, Goodwill Manasota served 11,672 people, placed 555 people in jobs, assisted 360 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce, and provided 19,540 hours of on-the-clock training for its employees. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 41 million pounds out of the landfill. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.