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After 9 Yrs In Jail, Man Has The “Right Recipe” To A 2nd Chance At Life.

Life doesn’t often give second chances. When it does, it pays to grab it with both hands!

Jah Kenya of Kansas City, Kansas is not throwing away the second chance that he was given. A decade ago he graduated from college, moved to New York City, and started working in the restaurant industry. He dreamed of becoming a chef and owning his own restaurant, but fate had other plans.

Jah was accused of a felony that he claims he did not commit. The court disagreed, sending him to prison for 9 long years. Instead of falling apart, Jah devoted his time in jail to bettering himself. He volunteered for the restorative justice program, developing a garden on prison grounds that ultimately produced 50,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.

These foods were donated to local food pantries and nursing homes. Working with the community felt right to Jah, and he vowed to keep it up when he was released.

As soon as he got out of prison Jah started working towards his goal of owning a restaurant. He worked for other restaurants for a few years, operating his own food truck on the side, and worked with Second Chance KC to get back on his feet. Second Chance KC is a bridge program that helps people transition from incarceration to freedom. He credits this organization for giving him a literal second chance at life.

Second Chance KC staff member Brittany Peterson was one of the first people who believed in Jah after he was released.

“She said hold on, hold on Jah, what do you wanna do? And I said, ‘I wanna cook. I want my own restaurant’ … It’s amazing that she has vision like she did,” Jah said. “Second Chance … literally, they named it perfect. Here’s a second chance for you. This is what we have for you, let’s do something with it together.”

On his 45th birthday, Jah finally had his dream come true when he opened Opal N Blue’s, a southern-style restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. The restaurant name and cuisine is inspired by his grandparents, Opal and Clarence “Blue” Scroggins.

Jah says he has “the right recipe to help our community.” He is working to clear his name by requesting clemency for his criminal records. He’s also putting a healthy dose of love and kindness into every morsel of food he makes in his kitchen.

“My spirit has to be right as I’m doing all this beautiful stuff. It’s not beautiful if I’m ugly on the inside, and you’re gonna be able to tell when you taste it,” he said.

Hooray for second chances! Jah is determined not to throw away his shot, and he has the support of his family and community. We wish him the best of luck with his new restaurant!

Share this story to cheer Jah on as he rebuilds his life from scratch.

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