My name is Sharita Cook, and I am the mother of seven beautiful children, which includes five sons and two daughters. I am the eldest daughter of Larry and Janis Burks. My parents were hard workers. There were five of us altogether, two brothers and two sisters. My mother was a chef, and also a longshoreman, and my father worked at Ingalls shipyard and Anchor glass company.
In my eyes, we lived a pretty normal life. But as time went on, I noticed my dad hitting my mom. Parents have fights, that can be normal, but things took a turn, and he shot my mother in the head in 1985. He shot her on Mother’s Day of all days, and I witnessed him go into his car and shoot himself. Neither parent died, but scars were left everywhere.
When I got older and started to form relationships, I met the man who would father my children. The cycle continued, and I found him to be mentally and physically abusive. I still remember him beating the children, my boys. He was a mechanic, so he would use a fan belt that came off a car. He then had rough sex with me while I was pregnant until I lost my first daughter.
I sought God and his word as much as I could. In his word, I found power and love — love for your fellow man and community.
With those memories, I sought God and his word as much as I could. In his word, I found power and love — love for your fellow man and community.
As a child, I imagined helping people when I grew up. My first thought as I got older was feeding the homeless, so I started an out-of-pocket pursuit to help young women and children by mentoring them and allowing my home to be a shelter.
That was too much to take on by myself, so I made a friend named Keli. I didn’t know our relationship would take us to where I am now. I had my hands in a lot of projects just trying to help. I really had a special connection with abused women, and I wanted a place for them to go and feel protected and empowered. I started a nonprofit organization called I am Knowledge.
Keli wanted me to meet her mom to help me build my foundation. For years, we meant to meet to discuss some things, but with my busy schedule and thinking you have forever, I didn’t meet Keli’s mother then. It was only after a tragic event — the death of Keli and her baby in a domestic violence incident — that I finally got to meet Keli’s wonderful mother.
Her mother and I have formed a relationship that has blossomed into something beautiful. After my talks with her, we decided I am Knowledge Foundation can be a rich resource to support women and children who experience domestic violence. We want to bring awareness and support to those women and families. Many women and children don’t know the signs or where to turn, and I want the foundation to be a beacon of hope, exemplifying love and encouragement to those abused families.
Through faith in God, all things work together — as my story has shown.