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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Introducing Myself


Introducing myself

Hi my name is Mark Claussen (my friends call me Sparky) and I’m a volunteer at Second Helpings in Indianapolis, IN.  I drive a delivery vehicle on Friday’s with my sister Cristal (like Joe a lot!) and I’m also a kitchen helper on Thursday’s (Liz and Kim rock!).

I was very gracious and honored to have been asked to write a blog for Second Helpings – it’ll be sort of a volunteer’s point of view on my experiences regarding our wonderful organization.  I will also be including the daily happenings of my new pursuit in the culinary arts.  You may also see a few general observations thrown in for good measure.

I guess I should explain myself on the culinary part.  About 2 years ago I was part of the malady that saw Detroit reduced even further down the scrap heap of the American economy.  Yeah, I was laid off and my world came to an end (or so I thought).  My company had been laying folks off for about 18 months and I was still working and thought that perhaps I may weather the storm on this latest down cycle. 

Detroit’s economy is very cyclical and I’ve seen it all before and never gave these cycles much thought because my particular job was in international troubleshooting.  There was always a need for my services.  I later came to realize that this feeling was a bit arrogant on my part because in the end – I too was released of all my responsibilities at my company.

I worked for DuPont which is a very large chemical company that makes everything from Stren® fishing line to Stainmaster carpeting to my product line which is Performance Coatings (they also invented nylon and Teflon).  DuPont produces a fair amount of the automotive paint used in factories spread across the globe for car manufacturers like GM, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Toyota, etc.  I specialized in paint applications and robotics.  In laymen’s terms….I painted cars with robots.

As it turned out my group of lay-offs was the last one and the knife cut deep.  It didn’t really matter anymore about the value of the employee because DuPont’s Automotive Performance Coating’s division was hemorrhaging money and it had to stop.  So it was my turn to feel the sting of downsizing as had many that came before me. 

I will say this, my time was well spent as I was privileged to have been able to circumnavigate our earth 8 times and have lived in countries like Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and South Korea.

I have lived a charmed life and realize just how wonderful these experiences have been to me and how they have shaped the person that I’ve become.  I believe these experiences have profoundly affected the way in which I’ve handled my new found status of being unemployed.
I knew that I could wait until the situation got better in Detroit or reinvent myself and create a better and happier life.  I was fortunate enough to qualify for a government program that would pay for me to go back to school and decided that my fortunes would lie somewhere down this path…..I just didn’t know what those fortunes would be or what path to choose for that matter.

All of a sudden it struck me while I was driving my car back from a friend’s house.  I had just cooked him a few days worth of meals because he was infirmed and unable to do so for himself and I thought – I’LL BECOME A CHEF!!  I’ve entertained for my family and friends for over 20-25 years and received great satisfaction from it as well as good feedback on my efforts.  Why not right?  Well then the naysayer in me came out and started thoughts of how old I’ll be when I graduate (50) and that it’ll be too hard to go back to college, but then a wave of calm came over me and I knew that my new life would be in the culinary arts.  The rest is history as they say and I’ll be writing about it a few times per week and welcome all your comments, criticisms and advice.

P.s.     Thanks Patty for making our door opening experiences a little bit easier.

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)


  1. Mark - what a great and inspiring story! Not only are you a true renaissance man, but you write extremely well and you obviously have a big heart. I look forward to following your blog. Best wishes from Julie Harrison

  2. Wow Julie, thanks for the wonderful compliment. I'm very flattered and enjoy this media quite a bit and plan on doing it for as long as I can.