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Kansas City organization helps formerly incarcerated find new life through entrepreneurship

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 21:41:26-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some say you'll never work a day in your life if you love what you do, and Craig Lark loves his work.

"I was raised by a single mother of three, so I kind of took up the part of cooking around the house," he said. "I started doing it every day, so I kind of just started creating my own dishes. So I just started like, doing it — I liked the cooking, so I found a love in it."

Lark started his own catering business to help restart his life after incarceration.

"I got into a little trouble growing up, you know, got incarcerated," he said. "And when I came out, I kind of changed by life around. Wanted to find something to do, I needed to do something with myself, so I wouldn't have to go back."

When former inmates get out, it can be extremely difficult for them to find work. Nearly half of all inmates end up back behind bars in a few years.

When Lark got out, he was searching for something to keep him out. Kyle Benson-Smith helped him find what that was.

"You and I would like to think that someone having served the time for the crime they committed would come home and gets a fresh start," Benson-Smith said. "But unfortunately, that's not how it works."

He says it's unnecessarily difficult for for former inmates to restart their lives. His organization, Determination Incorporated, helps ease the burden.

"Our goal as an organization is to create a pathway from prison to entrepreneurship," Benson-Smith said.

Lark says it was life changing.

"They showed me how to run my business, they showed me how to get loans, the showed me how to generate wealth for my family," he said. "They're showing me how to basically structure myself."

It worked for him, and Lark says the support network can work for others too.

"I had a life out here that I knew I wanted to live and I wanted to be here," he said. "They kind of gave me the courage and the confidence to do, you know, to build myself."

Lark plans to open a food truck this summer, and hopes to someday own his own restaurant.

To find out more about Determination Incorporated, and Craig's catering company, click the links below.