Karen Hagen loves the Kindred Kitchen Training Academy. She started classes in the first part of October 2021, and she graduated in January 2022.

Born in Texas, Karen traveled to a variety of states with her family as a child.  The longest period, five years, was spent in the Puerto Rico Commonwealth.   By age 15 she moved to Iowa to attend boarding school. After high school, she enlisted in the US Army as a helicopter mechanic. “There is a lot of cross-over between what I learned in the military and what I have learned in the Kindred Kitchen Training Academy. When you cook you must pay attention to detail, or the recipes do not turn out. Being accountable and punctual are also key to working in the café with the team.”

Karen has lived with a disability for the last 20 years and has found a home at the Twin Lakes Landing housing, operated by Housing Hope, where she can afford to live. “I have a lot of friends where I live and now, and I have more friends at Kindred Kitchen because of this program. I really enjoy coming to work and learning something new each day. My favorite tools to work with are knives because you can do so much with them, especially cutting vegetables. I have also learned how to make fresh ravioli from scratch, and I was taught a special hollandaise sauce that I like to put on egg dishes. These are some of my favorites to prepare.”

“Jon Zintel has been an important mentor to me. He explains things so well and is patient with all the questions I ask. I am honest and hardworking, and I love to have fun but I ask a lot of questions so I can do things correctly. I am going to miss Jon and all the other friends I have made when I graduate.”

Photo of an older woman standing in front of a wood paneling wall, smiling at the camera.