Village of Hope Stories – Nena


“Food is my love language. Seeing our clients eat well and take care of their bodies has been the most fulfilling aspect of doing what I love.”

Nena Ngo may be known for her yummy desserts and breads, but that’s just the beginning. She wants clients at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (DSYTC) to try all her creations. And when one of them asks to take a list of recipes home, Nena says she knows she’s accomplished something wonderful.
Nena has been the Chef at the Carp campus for two years and her journey to get there was an interesting one. She has a degree in engineering, has lived all over the world and has worked at many restaurants, including one of her own. “I needed a break and wasn’t sure what to do. The pandemic didn’t help,” she remembers. “I didn’t know much about the Centre but have witnessed so much addiction and mental illness in the restaurant industry that I wanted to try and help. That led to a full-time position. It has worked out really well.”
Nena provides meals for the youth in the program as well as staff. She develops meal plans, lessons, sources food and cooks everything from scratch. “The clients are so nice and deserve a chance to love themselves again. I try to get to know each person through food. What makes them comfortable? What provides a good memory? Maybe it’s something their Mom or Dad made for them or something they ate as a child or something they’ve always wanted to try but did not have the resources or the opportunity to do so.”
These culinary discussions also provide an opportunity to talk about science and the many misconceptions about food, fad diets and unhealthy eating habits. “It’s really back to the basics and it’s all about balance and understanding what your body needs to be happy and functional,” says Nena.
Moving to the new Centre is an exciting time and Nena says she can’t wait to work in the kitchen: “The new design and layout will allow me to create and expand the menus and lessons.”
“I live and breathe food,” sums up Nena. “I just want people to see it, eat it and enjoy it!” Definitely a labour of love!

Nena is the Chef at the Carp site. She says she is looking forward to moving into the kitchen at the new centre!


There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001