A Man’s Passion for Cooking Leads to Redemption and a College Degree

Allen Newcomb always had a passion for cooking, learning recipes and techniques from family members growing up in Louisville’s West End. “Scrambled eggs with ranch dressing and parsley, that’s the very first thing I learned to make, mainly because I loved eggs. That’s where it all started for me.” Over time, Newcomb was cooking for family and friends, essentially running a business right out of his own place. “I’d make $400-$500 before 9AM, working six hours. I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” But Newcomb’s entrepreneurial spirit could never really take flight because while he had one foot in the kitchen, the other was still in the streets running with friends and skirting the law.


By the time he reached his late 20’s he’d fathered 12 children by five different women which made it extremely difficult to adequately provide for them. Newcomb got a break in 2013 when a friend told him about The Salvation Army’s Culinary Arts Program, a chance he said to finally dedicate himself to his craft. “I convinced my wife to take the class with me and that helped us bond together and commit to starting our business together. Part of the 10-week intensive course included a trip to Sullivan University’s Culinary School, an important partner for The Salvation Army’s program. “Once I saw the inside of those kitchens and spoke with professional chefs, I knew this was where I was going to be at some point.”


That chance would finally come not long after graduating from The Salvation Army’s program when Newcomb was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Sullivan, an award granted every 18 months to an outstanding graduate. “I melted, I was so incredibly excited.” “By the third week it finally hit me that I was a college student and that I had a tremendous responsibility not only to my children but also myself. I knew there was no turning back.”


The two and a half years Newcomb spent working on his degree were some of the hardest he’d ever experienced. “It made earning money pretty hard because it kept me from making and selling food downtown during the lunch hour, money I needed to provide for my family.” But Newcomb persevered, finally earning his degree in December of 2016 at the age of 43. “I don’t cry easily, but I couldn’t hold them back at graduation. It finally hit me what I’d actually accomplished and what I’d been through to get to that point; I was happy with God and it was by far my proudest moment.”


Newcomb’s plans include opening a restaurant in his neighborhood, something he’d promised his grandmother so many years ago, in addition to getting his food truck business off the ground. But his experience has led him to even greater ambitions. “I’m going to help mold other young men & women into becoming chefs and helping them follow their dreams, just like others did for me, especially The Salvation Army.”

Sweet success for a local Culinary Program graduate

Sugar by Stacy, where delightful made from scratch homemade cakes, pies, cookies & deserts are just a phone call away!
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Stacy Martin never had any intention of becoming an entrepreneur, but after giving birth to triplets some 13 years ago, the mother of seven knew that she’d have to figure out a way to save money somehow. Triplets meant three birthdays cakes, three orders of cupcakes for their classrooms, and three of everything else. For a mother battling degenerative disc disease sustained after a work injury and now a stay-at-home mom, she needed an outlet to give her purpose again and keep moving. So, Stacy began to learn the art of making cakes, all kinds of cakes; often searching the Web for ideas, designs and recipes.


Eventually she began coming up with her own recipes, making cakes and an array of sweet treats for family and friends. With the help of her oldest son, he began to advertise his mother’s new found talent on his social media accounts and the orders began coming in with a flurry, some from around the Midwest and even outside the U.S. But something was missing says Martin. She needed to round out her culinary skills, not just for her new hobby, but to be able to properly take care of her growing family. That’s when she heard about The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program and jumped in.


“I learned so much about cooking, mostly that what I’d been doing for most of my life was wrong. I learned new techniques, tried new spices and sauces, learned about the business side of things; It was a life-changing experience.”


By the time she graduated in January of 2017, her cake business was becoming too much of a burden to continue operating out of her home, where countless strangers were coming to pick up their orders. She knew she needed a space of her own. A place where she could follow her passion and create her culinary confections. With the help of her husband David and a loan from his 401K, the duo opened a storefront business in downtown Louisville called Sugar By Stacy where Martin’s been immersed in baking cakes for nearly every occasion, even taking advantage of the summer wedding season.


“This is a dream come true, my life, this business, having such tremendous support from family, friends and The Salvation Army. The Culinary Program was a stepping-stone to following my dreams and isn’t that what living is all about? Without that opportunity, I would’ve never been able to achieve what I’ve accomplished to this point. I am forever grateful.”

The Power of Transformation

Community camp proves transformational for a Louisville girl with autism


Jamie Hall was like so many other moms whose kids were headed off to Camp Paradise Valley for community camp back in June; wondering would her child make friends? Would her daughter be ok so far from home? But what was different is that her 9-year-old daughter Jazmine has functional autism and with that was the fear that she would be susceptible to meltdowns due to sensory issues. “I was both excited for her but nervous at the same time. I was worried she’d have a meltdown over the heat or trying foods she wouldn’t normally eat at home, or petting animals. Would the counselors know how to accommodate her?” For nearly her entire life, Jamie struggled to get Jazmine to eat anything other than chicken nuggets and when it came to animals, Jazmine would immediately run in the opposite direction, even small household pets like kittens and puppies.


But after five short days down in Burkesville, Kentucky, Jamie knew her fears were unfounded as soon as Jazmine got off the bus back in Louisville. “She came running into my arms and started telling me all the things she did while at camp, things like jumping off the boat into Dale Hollow Lake, and eating foods like lasagna, shrimp, bacon, celery and meat, even petting a cow; I was astounded.” Making new friends also came easy to Jazmine, both on the ride down to camp and while she was there. “I liked it because the other kids were a lot like me and they really didn’t care about our differences. They were like, “that’s okay.” Jazmine said everyone at camp was different, but they all got along. Her transformation continued at home too says mom. “She wanted to go to bed at a decent hour and spends her time reading her bible before bed instead of watching television like she’d normally do.” “She became a lot more spiritual at camp and even asked us to get an adventure bible and study books. I don’t know what they did or how the counselors managed to break through, but clearly I need to take some notes.”


Jamie, who works part-time at The Louisville Area Command, had struggled to find a camp she could afford for Jazmine during the two years she’s lived in Louisville. That’s why she’s so thankful for the opportunity the Army’s camping ministry provides to families like hers. “This was Jazmine’s vacation and we’re so grateful she had something fun to do for the summer, but this was an experience that went well beyond our expectations.” Jazmine admits it was a little difficult to come home because she was having such a great time but she says she was looking forward to it so she could give her mom and dad a big hug. There’s no question what the plans are for next summer says Jamie. “She’s already talking about going back to camp and getting over some of her other fears like diving off the diving board. She may not accomplish it, but I know she’s not afraid to face her fear and at least give it a try.” These are the types of memories that will last a lifetime and as they often do, change lives forever.

A “Star” Shines Bright

A fading “star” shines bright once again thanks to help from The Salvation Army


Imagine what life would be like if over the course of a few days you lost your eyesight; plunging your world into total darkness for two weeks. That’s what happened to Zaraya Gholston back in the Fall of 2016 while holding down a job as a restaurant hostess and trying to find stable housing for herself and five year-old son. “It was the most terrifying thing I’d ever experienced.” Zaraya has just recently moved to Louisville to be closer to her mother whom she’d not seen since the age of three when she moved from Long Island, New York to the outskirts of Montgomery, Alabama with her grandmother. “I had a wonderful life growing up in Montgomery. I was very involved in my church singing with the choir and was part of a competition step-dance team that gave me the ability to travel quite a bit; that’s why I got the nickname of “Star”, often being front and center with nearly everything I did.”


IMG_5825In Louisville, Zaraya was looking to put down roots, and being the determined go-getter she always was, began working to support her family, often with multiple jobs. But when she lost her sight due to complications from diabetes, that also meant the inability to work and keep a place of her own. “I lived with a boyfriend who was unsupportive, my mom couldn’t help and I tried living with my sister for a short time, but after her home was violently broken into one day, I knew that was no longer an option.” Always strong in her faith, Zaraya began to regain her sight nearly overnight, stumping the medical professionals she was working with. Zaraya credits her strong faith in Jesus and the many prayers she received from friends at her church. But The Lord wasn’t finished answering her prayers says Zaraya as she says He led her to the doors of The Salvation Army and its Transitional Housing program. “I really had to swallow my pride at first because I’m the kind of person who’s willing to work as many jobs as possible to make it on my own, and not live in a shelter, but in all honesty, it was a blessing.”


Zaraya and her son Azerean moved into the furnished apartment in late February of 2017 and almost immediately knew that God helped her at the right time and the right place. “This was the first time in a long time that I could finally breathe, knowing that when my door closed each night we didn’t have to worry about feeling unsafe, or being mistreated; I had total peace of mind and stability.” Now Zaraya and her son have their own place, thanks to the help of her counselors who gave her the help she desperately needed. “This is my big comeback, getting back to being the “star” I was once before.  Sometimes life is just life and it doesn’t always go the way you planned it, but thanks to The Salvation Army, they gave me a “hand-up” which is exactly what I needed.”

Pathway of Hope

Rebecca Hatfield – Pathway of Hope


Rebecca Hatfield had given up on life. She was broken emotionally and spiritually after years of addiction leaving her and her family virtually homeless. But thanks to The Salvation Army and the Pathway of Hope program, Rebecca is repairing the wreckage by allowing God to guide her along her path to recovery and self-sufficiency.

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