The Hands That Feed Me
By Vera Stewart | Photos by Amy J. Owen
Throughout my career, I have corrected those that have called me a Chef and just reiterated, that I consider myself a good home cook and a reliable hostess. Together, those attributes have resulted in a career that has spanned almost four decades but started in a high school classroom as a home economics teacher.
As a result of my accountant’s suggestion to look for a diversification during the summer, The VeryVera Cooking Camp was created in 2004. Over these last 18 years, the camp has provided a Home Management Curriculum to children ranging in age from 6-14, introducing them to cooking, etiquette, dietetics education and entrepreneurship. The part of the business module that was not in place early on, is the involvement of former campers to the management of the program. The hands that were once involved in learning the principles of our Camp are now the hands that are involved in the instruction and management.
As I instruct each year in my goals for the continued success of our Camp, the creativity and passion from my high school senior management team is what stops me in my tracks. I am so proud of the young people that showed a small spark of interest early on and with the support of their parents, decided to stick it out and become leaders. I hope you will enjoy what these young women site as their recipe for success.
High School & graduation status: Graduated with distinction from Westminster Schools of Augusta in May
Interests, Awards or Sports in High School: Heavily involved in the theatre program at Westminster and was the Fine Arts Leader on the Student Leadership Team my junior and senior year
College & Study Path: Covenant College to study Marketing, Art History, and French
First Association with VeryVera: I was never a camper and casually heard about her company from my dad. I went in and dropped off a resume the spring of my 10th grade year and have been working there ever since!
First Job at VeryVera: My first experience with Vera was when I dressed up as Mary Poppins for a Mary Poppins themed Saturday camp. It was so much fun!
Total Years involved: About 3 years
Best lesson from the experience: Put 110% into everything you do and never forget the little details because they can make the biggest difference.
What’s your recipe for success? Always wear a big smile and do your job thoroughly and with joy, no matter how tedious it may be.
Ansley Madison Colvin
High School & graduation status: Graduated from Lakeside High School with Honors (#7 in my graduating class)
Interests, Awards or Sports in High School: Loved to cook and make crafts, started my own handmade earring business, played lacrosse for my high school, participated in many clubs and honor societies, became a Certified Nursing Assistant
College & Study Path: Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), majoring in biomedical engineering (graduating in 2024)
First Association with VeryVera: Applied to a work at VeryVera through a recommendation from my guidance counselor
First Job at VeryVera: I worked in the afternoons running errands and cleaning the cottage.
Total Years involved: Have been involved with VeryVera for four years this coming fall
Best lesson from the experience: I’ve learned how much hard work and determination goes into running a successful business. There are so many aspects that are usually never seen by the public, so it’s a privilege for me to see what really goes on behind the scenes.
What’s your recipe for success? Always doing my best at everything I do, even if it’s a difficult task. Never give up!
High School & graduation status: Davidson Fine Arts Class of 2021 Graduate
Interests, Awards or Sports in High School: Theatre, Leadership in the Arts (Theatre), Young Director Award, Honor Graduate, VeryVera Scholarship Recipient
College & Study Path: University of Georgia, majoring in Biology, Pre-PA path
First Association with VeryVera: I was a camper for three years starting in 2014!
First Job at VeryVera: I started as a junior counselor at VeryVera during the summer after my freshman year of high school.
Total Years involved: 3 years as a camper, 4 years as a counselor
Best lesson from the experience: I have learned how vital first impressions are! The first moment you meet someone may influence how they perceive you for years to come. A good first impression brings good relationships and connections. As Vera would say, always wear a smile!
What’s your recipe for success? My recipe for success is a combination of passion and hard work. Hard work is needed for success, but passion and love for what you do gives you the energy to constantly critique and improve your craft. If you love what you do, so much more spirit goes into your success.
High School & graduation status: Evans High School honor graduate
Interests, Awards or Sports in High School: Lacrosse, piano, Certified nursing assistant, fellowship of Christian athletes, National Technical Honor Society
College & Study Path: Georgia Southern University with a degree in nursing
First Association with VeryVera: Camp at 8 years old
First Job at VeryVera: Counselor at 13 years-old
Total Years involved: 11 years, since my first year being a counselor I was also a camper
Best lesson from the experience: The best lesson I have learned from this experience is that making mistakes is a part of life, but how you fix them is what matters.
What’s your recipe for success? My recipe for success is to be resilient. Life has many uncertainties, but being able to push through these uncertainties can lead to great success.
Appears in the August/September 2021 issue of Augusta Magazine.