Staff Celebrity Spotlight: Mark Richardson

Job: Chestnut Hill Prepared Foods & Sandwich Station

Since when: September 2016

Age: 29

Where he’s from & where he lives now: Lakewood, NJ, & Fishtown.

A little background: Mark went into foster care at the end of eighth grade after being raised primarily by his grandmother. He eventually settled in Camden, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High in 2009. He attended Camden County Community College for a while, but dropped out, moved to Trenton and then back to Camden, working at a series of jobs. He moved to Philadelphia in 2009.

How he got to the Co-op: While living in Fishtown and working at a CVS, he came home one night to find his house on fire. He lost a lot of his things, and the experience made him realize he needed to make some changes. He found out about Weavers Way online and applied, even though he’d never even heard of Chestnut Hill. “I came in with no kitchen experience whatsoever. The only reason I actually ended up getting the job was because I am a foodie. You can pretty much ask anybody at work — nine times out of 10, whatever I’m eating for lunch, I’ve made it myself.”

Lessons From the Job: “I tend to be someone who is independent, and I like working by myself, but working at the Co-op has certainly taught me more about working together…Customers ask me all kinds of questions … I want to be able to help them find something, tell them where it’s at, and that takes talking to people in other departments … it’s really about cooperation.”

Favorite Co-op products: Fruitwood Orchards raspberry honey, chicken banh mi and roast-beef hoagies from the sandwich station (he loves the Co-op’s house roasted beef), Crust vegan bakery treats (especially the brookie).

Future plans: n the short term, he’s helping care for his ailing grandmother in Lakewood. He hopes to get back to school at some point, but wants to pay down his debts first. He also wants to complete EMS training, which he had started but had to abandon after the fire.

Thoughts on Weavers Way: “I think the one thing we have that a lot of other places don’t have is a focus on the local economy, that sense of ‘for the community, by the community.’ …We get to have a say as far as how we want things to be.”

— Karen Plourde