Culinary program helps domestic violence victim start over

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — Another woman at Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) is making plans for the future, by taking advantage of the culinary program.

Shannon Kyle came to KARM fresh from jail in late 2004 after living most of her life on the streets. Now, she spends her time learning to cater gourmet meals.

When 6 News visited, Shannon was on kitchen duty at KARM, busy packing hot meals for the needy.

It’s a segment of the population she used to belong to. “I grew up in an alcoholic home. Both my parents were alcoholic. My father was abusive to my mother. There was childhood sexual abuse,” Shannon says.

“You were abused?” 6 News asks. “Yeah,” Shannon says. “I met my first husband when I was 14-years-old, pregnant, got married at 15. He was violent, tried to kill me twice.”

“He tried to throw me out of an apartment window with a knife pointed at my throat. I finally got up enough nerve to leave him. He wound up with my children whom I haven’t seen in 25 years.”

“When I left, I didn’t really go anywhere better for me,” Shannon says. “I wound up running around with a bunch of bikers. They’re violent, not known for being real nice people so I got involved with another man who was real violent.”

Shannon says getting arrested for public intoxication saved her life. She went straight from jail to KARM and learned she had a knack for culinary arts. “We did some catering events. I learned to make some stuffed broccoli and cheese chicken. It’s really good, too.”

Shannon is part of the Abundant Life Kitchen Program, a partnership between KARM and Second Harvest Food Bank. She and others like her go through a 12-week intensive training course followed by a four week internship at a local restaurant or catering company.

Shannon wants to take her training to the next level. “I want to try to get into some restaurant management, some Spanish classes, some computer classes so that I’d eventually like to open up my own place some day. I’m not sure if it’s a restaurant or coffee shop but I need more education for something like that.”

“That’s my long-term goal is to try to do that, stay clean and sober and be happy.”

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