From homeless to hopeful

Allisha Corley believes her life transformation is a miracle.

At age 23, she found herself on the streets of Spokane, homeless and addicted.

"I thought I would die from my addiction," said Allisha. "I would try and get better, then relapse. I'd be on the streets again."

For more than ten years, Allisha lived on and off the streets, battling her demons. It wasn't until she discovered she was pregnant that things started to change.

She entered a six-month in-patient program for pregnant women, where she overcame her addictions. Soon after being released from the hospital, she and her newborn baby moved in with a relative.

"By the grace of God, my sister let me stay with her," said Allisha. "I had damaged every bridge in my life, but I had a newborn baby and no income. I spent all my food stamps on formula."

Allisha entered the DHS Work First Program to find employment. The program connected her with Christ Kitchen in Spokane.

"I didn't know what I was in for when I walked through those doors," said Allisha. "I'm so glad I decided to come here. Christ Kitchen is where my faith grew."

Allisha is an example of the program's success. She is a job trainer, executive assistant and catering specialist at Christ Kitchen.

"Allisha is one of the most remarkable women," said CEO and executive program director Kim Kelly. "When she came here, she was so quiet and reserved. Now, she's a powerhouse and empowers other women. She absolutely knocked our socks off."

Christ Kitchen offers women like Allisha a lifeline. The ministry provides job training for impoverished and disenfranchised women. The program has a 96% retention rate, which means graduates remain functioning members of society after they leave the program.

"We are a restart for women coming out of prison, prostitution, addiction or abuse," said Kim. "Many challenging factors prevent them from supporting themselves with a sustaining wage. Often, children rely on them for survival. Christ Kitchen is not a handout. It's a hand-up," she added.

The organization meets women where they are emotionally and academically, allowing them to heal and learn at their own pace. In addition to learning valuable employment abilities, women gain a sense of community and life skills necessary for daily functioning. The program provides life coaching, nutrition classes, and even bible studies.

Once the women graduate, Christ Kitchen collaborates with local hiring partners to find full-time positions offering steady income and benefits such as health and retirement.

"We have some amazing community partners," said Kim. "When the women come with the Christ Kitchen stamp of approval, they are happy to hire them."

Since its founding in 1998, the ministry has grown substantially over the last 25 years. It has a full-service catering kitchen, food truck and wholesale division. The women produce 70 different products sold on its online platform. Funding comes from selling products and services, grants, individual donations and community partnerships. Currently, the program is limited to 23 women on the payroll and has a waiting list. By the end of 2025, they hope to have space for 30 women in the program.

Avista has been a long-term supporter of the organization, recently awarding it a Named Communities Investment Fund grant to support its programs. The grant will help Christ Kitchen continue to lift women like Allisha up with skills and employment experience to enable living-wage job opportunities.

"Avista is one of our biggest sustaining partners," said Kim. "They have helped us stay the course and continue to grow."

Avista's Named Communities Investment Fund (NCIF) was approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, as part of the company's Clean Energy Investment Plan (CEIP) to meet compliance targets for the state's Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA, 2019). The NCIF will invest up to $5 million annually in projects, programs, and initiatives that benefit Avista's Washington electric customers residing in historically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities (i.e., "Named Communities"). Community-based projects will be selected for funding through a competitive grant application process. Application information and eligibility guidelines can be found at

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