Rainbow Kitchen: Shannon’s Story

October 28, 2022 / by United Way

The first thing you notice about Shannon is how positive she is and that when she smiles, she radiates warmth.

Shannon is a survivor, a go-getter as she says. She has overcome a lot in her life. She grew up separated from her parents, living in five different group homes. As an adult, she struggled with addiction and then lost custody of her children. She has had many hard moments in her life and suffers from PTSD from witnessing a tragic event in her home. For the longest time, she has struggled with employment and money was always tight.

Things started to turn around for Shannon when she started coming to Rainbow Kitchen, a food hub and community kitchen powered by United Way in Esquimalt.

“When you’re hungry, you can’t think straight. That’s the truth,” explains Shannon, remembering how nervous she was when she started getting regular meals from the charity. “I was embarrassed. And very hungry. It’s hard to accept that you don’t have any food.”

Aside from being able to access regular meals, Shannon also received support from the staff. The difference-maker at Rainbow Kitchen is the people, says Shannon, who is thankful for the welcoming and non-judgemental team that made a difference in her life.  “It’s amazing how much kindness empowers you. It just makes you want to be as kind as them. Even when you have nothing,” she says.

Shannon is proud that she has been substance-free for the last six years, and has just started a new job. Most importantly, she is back with her children. “Once you learn that you’re worthy, you start making your life worthwhile. You start doing things that are important – like making sure my neighbours and myself have food, or my kids and their kids.”

Shannon now pays her gratitude and kindness forward. She regularly takes home food for three of her neighbours who are struggling. She also brings her children and grandchildren to the kitchen so that everyone can enjoy the family environment.

“To accept everyone as your friend and as your neighbour is huge. You just have to accept people as they are and help them to be their best,” says Shannon. She sums up the importance of the community kitchen saying, “Feeding a community is going to make the community better.”

Having a job also means that Shannon will be able to give back financially to support others, something that she is looking forward to.

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