Photograph by Maggie Lynn, Article by Andrea Six

CHALLENGES ARE A PART OF LIFE but when they hit you all at once, would you be able to stand strong? Without support or family to lean on, it can be easy to fall down when times get tough. This is where Shane found himself after moving to Georgia.

A car accident at the age of 20 left him with no job and the medication they gave him to cope with the pain turned into an addiction that dragged him into homelessness. Shane came to Savannah for substance abuse rehabilitation, and after intense treatment, was clean, sober, and ready to rebuild his life.

With a clean bill of health, Shane left Savannah for a job in West Virginia. After losing one brother to cancer and another brother to a car accident within the span of a few days, Shane relapsed and found himself back on the street again.

He returned to Savannah and the program that helped him gain his sobriety the first time. After completing rehabilitation, he wanted to continue radically changing his life and came to Union Mission for culinary arts training.

“I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” he explained. “Over the past 15 years, most of my work experience has come from working in restaurants. I like the environment and I like to cook.”

His supervisor at Salvation Army told him all about the free eight-week Culinary Arts program at Union Mission and how he could not only get training from professional chefs, but also have a chance to obtain his Serv-Safe Certification. This, and a little inspiration from a friend, led Shane to apply to the program.

“I like to serve people. I haven’t always been that way, but I do have a passion for this type of work.”

Shane is striving to be a better father to his son and show his nieces and nephews that it is possible to turn your life around. He continues to work towards his goal of managing and, hopefully, owning a restaurant of his own.

“I want to own a restaurant or if I never own it – if God doesn’t have that in mind for me – I want to manage one,” he said. “I’ve worked all around the kitchen from the dishes to a fry cook to grill cook to broil, you name it, I’ve worked it. And I’m learning more here as far as the Serv-Safe test that I’ve taken.”


“Programs like this are not everywhere. People just don’t give you an opportunity like this – to better yourself, to make your future look brighter.”

Thanks to the generous donors, community partners, and volunteers who support Union Mission, the helping hand that Shane received is still available for those looking to transform their lives and leave homelessness behind. Thank you for sharing hope and help in our community!