WEST KNOX COUNTY - This Saturday, the Cove at Concord Park will be filled with dragons for the Dragon Boat Festival. It's a fundraiser for Knox Area Rescue Ministries and the organization's many services.
In many cases, KARM gives people a second chance. It sure did for Rachel Giannaris.
"I can tell you all day long that my life is great now, but I had to go through some really bad stuff to get to where I am now," she said.
Giannaris now is at the Coffee Bean at Knoxville Center. Her life was quite different when she was a teenager.
"I was involved heavily with drugs and alcohol and a lot of different things that I didn't need to be a part of. And my family finally said we can't allow you to continue this anymore. We love you too much," she said.
About two years ago she tried to take her own life and ended up with a severe, crippling leg injury and a loss of hope.
"I ended up losing my car and my job and my home and was homeless and I had nowhere to go, and my grandfather is a KARM employee and I was actually calling to get a hold of him and he just wasn't there and it was God-ordained that he wasn't. I ended up talking to a Serenity counselor, Tiffany Smith, and she said if you can be here in two hours then we have a bed open for you," she said.
Serenity House is a bible-based KARM Ministry. It's a residential program for women dealing with addiction, domestic violence, or homelessness. Rachel spend about 20 months there.
"Through KARM I found my now pastor and just support that I didn't have before, people who loved me in the hardest part of my life," she said.
She also found a job.
"A Serenity volunteer called our house and she was asking for me and she didn't even know my name. She just knew the bubbly red head. And they had opened this coffee shop and knew that they wanted me here," she said. "I started working here part time and became their manager very shortly after that."
And then Brent and Megan Boutwell asked her to take over the business.
"I'm 21 years old. This is an insane responsibility but it was one that I called my pastor and she said, Well, if this isn't God I don't know what is. So through a lot of prayer and support I took over ownership of this shop and God just continues to bless us every single day," she said.
Rachel is starting to cater and she is exploring opening a second location.
"I am very grateful for everything that I have gotten through KARM. I got a second chance. I got the hope. I got the ability to start over."
The Dragon Boat Festival is Saturday, June 18, at The Cove at Concord Park on Northshore Drive.
This event is free to the public. It includes a children's play area, food vendors and fun activities throughout the day.
Festivities will begin 8 a.m. Saturday with an opening prayer, the national anthem, and the annual eye dotting ceremony
The first race begins 8:20 a.m.
Park at Farragut High School to take a free shuttle to the Cove.
All support of the race is welcome. Donations can be made online.