COMMUNITY HEROES: Popular Kingsport restaurant owner spreading kindness one rib rack at a time

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KINGSPORT. Tenn. (WJHL) Each week on ABC Tri-Cities we introduce you to a person who makes our region a better place to live.

We take you to Kingsport, where popular barbecue restaurant called Bare Bones BBQ, sits on Memorial Boulevard, and the owner, known for his delicious food and kindness, is taking on a bigger task.

Meet this week’s Community Hero, Shannon Vaughn!

It is known for its smoked bologna, ribs and pulled pork.

“Initially, I wanted to compete. Do a little BBQ competition you see on TV; KCBS, BBQ and stuff like that. The best thihng about catering is you get paid everytime. You don’t have to win. You go with catering, you get a check. If you go to a competition, you have to win to get a check,” Bare Bones BBQ owner, Shannon Vaughn joked.

The restaurant was created in 2012, initally as a food truck and then expanded into a building in February of this year.

Vaughn, said, “It was born out of my wedding. I wanted BBQ for my wedding and when I got the price of the BBQ for the rehearsal dinner, it was immensly expensive, so I thought, well I have time. I have a welder, most of the materials I need. I’ll build a small cooker and cook it myself.”

However, the delectable barbeque is not the only reason why folks keep coming back to to the restaurant.

“His heart is bigger than this building,” his aunt, Vernita Wyatt, who goes by “Aunt Cookie” said.

It is the love and kindess passed on by Shannon Vaughn.

“Kindness breeds kindness, so if you’re kind to those around you, they might not be kind to you but be kind to them. It may breed kindness into them to someone later on,” Vaughn said.

His Aunt Cookie recalls the day he was born and said Vaughn has always been the type of person to give back and help those around him.

“He’s honest, he loves people, and he always puts everybody else ahead of him. He always has. Even when he was a child,” Aunt Cookie said. “Shannon’s impacted the community in ways that I couldn’t sit here and tell you all the things he’s done for other people.”

She recalled a time when Vaughn helped a family in need.

“A family that had several children. They had a stove that only had one stove up and only one burner in the oven. Shannon bought them a stove, and took it, delivered it,” she said. “They didn’t have Christmas. Shannon organized the family, friends, church. That car was so full of presents for those children that we had to take another car to take other stuff.”

Now, the restaurant owner is taking on a rather larger task. It is called “Random Meal of Kindness.”

“Once a month, we’ve decided to go feed a first responder group,” he explained.

Every third Friday of the month, a first responder department or center will receive a meal, upon nomination from the community.

“We came up with the idea, initially, that we could grab a smoker take it out, set up nearby, cook some food. Now, give me a few hours, I could get you a meal off a smoker,” Vaughn explained. “And at least, serve them a hot meal while they’re there on scene because sometimes, all these guys are going to get are a power bar and a gatorade for the next three days, you know.”

It was an idea that came to him after helping with the recent hurricane relief efforts.

Vaughn said, “While there’s not a need to serve a million meals here in the Tri-Cities, and we’re not going to see the eye of the hurricane pass over Kingsport, Tennessee, we hope. because if it does, it’s bad! But, there are blizzards, there are wildfires, there are kids who get lost in the woods. So, there’s always throughout the year, opportunities to feed people.”

“You know, these guys aren’t appreciated enough. These firefighters are putting their life on the line. They’ll risk their life for my family and may not have a chance to go home,” he said.

How to nominate a department:

  • Email to: bbonesbbq@gmail.com
  • Subject line: Random Meal of Kindness
  • In the email mention the department name, location, department phone number and reason the department is being nominated.

“So these guys that I met through the OBR and the BBQ basics, said hey, if you’ll let us, we’ll come and get thr food and deliver it to them. Basically, I just have to open my doors and my kitchen. I just have to prepare the meals and let them pick them up,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn hopes to continue his mission of breeding kindness with kindness and hopes this will inspire others to spread kindness.

“He’s never going to fullfil that mission. He is always, always looking for something else to do for other people,” Aunt Cookie said. “He is a hero and he will always be a hero in my eyes. He’s as close and as much a part of my heart and my life, as my own children. But, I’m kind of partial to him.”

Aunt Cookie said this is just a piece of pie from Vaughn’s dedication to helping others.

Throughout his life, Shannon Vaughn has come across various inspirational people but he gave this official title to his parents.

“They’ve always kind of lead by example,” he said.

“Even those people who negatively effect you throughout the course of your life, can have a positive outcome in your life later on down the road. When you’re young, when you’re little, your influences are within the four walls of your home. As you get older, those influences move from inside the home to outside the home. That circle of influence grows, and grows, and grows. So, there’s so many people that influences every decision that you’ve made through time. I don’t know if I can put my finger on one,” Vaughn said.

The two biggest pieces of advice he would give someone is to always do your best to forgive.

“One is stay in your own lane, meaning figure out what you do and do it well. Don’t base what you’re doing on anything anybody else is doing or how anybody else is doing it,” he said.

“Forgiveness is more about healing for me, instead of the person who offended me. Sometimes, people hurt you and you carry that for a long time and it cane effect you as you carry out your day-to-day. It can effect your sleep, it can effect your health. I’ve been there. It’s healthier to forgive and move on,” Vaughn said.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you! Nominate them to be an ABC Tri-Cities Community Hero! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to nominate them.

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