From homeless to business owner, Denver chef gives back

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SHERIDAN, Colo.  --   From homeless to business owner… that’s just part of a local chef’s inspiring story.

Saturday, he took a break from working on his new restaurant to give back to neighbors in need and to spread a message of hope.

“You can call me Mo, or Mojo,” says Marriese Jones.

He’s doing what he knows best -- BBQ and giving back.

“It’s a job that someone has to do. And I think I was called on to do that job,” Mo said.

Mo started and runs a local nonprofit called Hedges and Highways Outreach Ministries that helps people in need with getting back on their feet.

On Saturday, he held a community event outside his BBQ restaurant – Annointed BBQ and Soul Food -- that’s set to open next year.

“Giving some BBQ away, giving a car away... and jobs. About 12 different job recruiters out here,” said Mo.

Once a homeless man, Mo knows what it’s like to have nothing.

“I had people reach out to me and help me out,” said Mo.

Now that he's in a position to extend a helping hand, he's being frank about his journey.

“It took a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice,” said Mo.

He worked 2 and a half jobs to make enough to afford a place to live. Ultimately he saved enough to pursue his dream to open a BBQ joint.

Now Mo uses his story to connect with others, and to hopefully inspire them.

“I’m not ashamed to tell them my background and my past. Because that’s what’s going to help someone who is struggling,” said Mo.

He can’t feed everyone in need, or get everyone into a shelter- but he can help those willing to help themselves.

Like Andrew conti who won a donated car at the event.

“This is a huge blessing,” said Conti.

Conti drives 25 miles get to work every day and was in need of reliable transportation.

He’s thankful for the car and for Mo’s message.

“People helping people. This is beautiful. I mean, the community came out,” said Conti.

What’s next for Mo?

“Next month we are doing a toy drive. And we’ll be giving away another car,” said Mo.

The nonprofit and restaurant are both located at 2504 West Hampden Avenue in Sheridan, Colo.