Sunrise VentureON client finds opportunity, happiness

Texas Roadhouse didn’t become one of the nation’s most successful and innovative restaurant chains by sheer luck. The Louisville-based company’s remarkable ability to find talented people of good character sets it apart in a very competitive industry.


So it comes as no surprise that company officials quickly recognized Deanna, a Sunrise client, as a young lady with potential, someone who could succeed in their company. On July 20, Deanna joined other Sunrise VentureON clients in a visit to Texas Roadhouse headquarters and a nearby restaurant. Her self-confident, outgoing personality stood out and the questions she asked reflected her natural curiosity and intelligence. In less than a month, Deanna went from visiting a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Louisville to working for one in Owensboro, where she lives and attends college.

Today, all’s well with Deanna. She loves her new job and attends Owensboro Community Technical College, having graduated from high school early. But she’s traveled a long, troubled road for someone so young. A native of Lyons, France, Deanna comes from a family that owns restaurants across Europe and the U.S. She lived in Los Angeles before moving to Kentucky when her father opened a restaurant in the Lexington area. Along the way, Deanna started abusing drugs and alcohol and got caught up in a self-destructive lifestyle. Desperately in need of help, she went through a couple of treatment programs before coming to Sunrise.

VentureOn Client

Sunrise counselors and therapists helped Deanna identify negative behaviors and avoid the harmful thoughts that had led her down a troubled path. Eventually, she was able to transition into foster care. And as her outlook improved, so did her academic performance: she graduated early from high school and began college at 17. When she turns 18, Deanna will move into a Sunrise-owned apartment in Owensboro as part of the VentureON program. VentureON connects youths aging out of the care system with resources that can help them find housing, jobs and an education. The program surrounds each young adult with a care plan team, a mentor and others who help them transition into adulthood.

“Deanna has lots of life experience, but she doesn’t have a lot of life skills, things like managing money, washing clothes and so forth,” said Becky Treon, Sunrise foster care specialist. “That’s why I think Texas Roadhouse is such a great job for her because she has to stick to a schedule and be on time.”

Deanna agrees with that assessment. And she’s appreciative of the opportunity she’s been given. Not only has her new employer been willing to work around her class schedule, her coworkers have been a valuable source of moral support.

“I absolutely love working there,” she said. “I like having a huge family, knowing I can rely on them if I need help.”

Written by Chris Jones, Sunrise Associate Director of Communications.

Jake Pelfrey