I suppose in every job there are things that we experience that we didn’t count on. For me, the worst of those things has been attending the funerals of young women that I have grown to love. The text I received the morning of July 8th really knocked the wind out of me. Kim Clark joined our program in February, bringing laughter and exuberance with her. She had a round, almost cherubic face that always had a rosy glow. Her laughter was contagious, as she laughed from her toes to her nose. She worked hard at Sonic and frequently would bring a warm corndog to share with Gabby, our Duncan House dog. If it was too warm, she would blow on it and feed it to her with a fork! In class, Kim was always right in the thick of any discussion, ready to share her viewpoint or experiences in order to encourage someone else. Thanks to the ravages of drug addiction, Kim made her share of poor choices and the consequences were dire. She had been in jail and had signed custody of her 4 young children over to her mother, because their father was in prison. She had satisfied stringent Knox County Recovery Court requirements, and graduated that program in May. She had developed quite the sense of humor about her old life. I’ll never forget the laughter when she took us through all her mugshots, pointing out that she changed her hair color each time she was arrested. But when the laughter ceased, she would say, “Not going back there…God’s got me.” Thirteen months before we met Kim, she knelt at the altar of Blessed Hope Baptist Church and gave her life to Christ. You could tell that Kim no longer wanted to be that woman in the mug shots. Sometime during the night of July 8th, at her mother’s home, Kim met her Savior face to face. She was 34 years old. I firmly believe that sometimes the Lord purposely brings his child home at a time that defies human explanation. Maybe because He knows the battles they fight and wants to save them from further defeat or discouragement. Maybe because He wants their loved ones last memories of them to be when they were on top of the world. And maybe, we don’t need to know. “For as heaven is higher than earth, My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 What-ever the reason, our classroom is too quiet without her laughter, and our hearts are emptier until we see her again. Carolyn Garner, Kim’s mother, wishes to thank the following people who contributed to Kim’s final expenses and the back-to-school needs of her children: Mary Blount, Lisa Costner, Gary and Diane Forry, Pam Hodges, Arlene McElyea, Les and Eva Pierce, Nita Privette, Rachel Randolph, and The Secret Sisters.
One of the key values of A Hand Up For Women is partnering with organizations in the community who share our commitment to empowering women to succeed. Last year, we were fortunate enough to be sought out by the Second Chances program through the City of Knoxville’s Public Service Department. Eligible candidates from A Hand Up interview with the Equity and Diversity Committee from the department and, if chosen, serve a 12-week paid internship as part of various teams within the department. If they successfully complete the internship, they are given the opportunity to apply for open permanent positions. Marilyn Anderson, our first Second Chances participant, is now employed with the city full-time. She completed her internship with flying colors… even becoming the first participant to receive her commercial driver’s license on the first try! Pam Wilkinson will complete her internship on March 10th, having also received her CDL. A third potential Second Chances participant is in the process of interviewing for the next internship which will begin in April. We are so grateful to Gail Frank and Nick Bradshaw from the Public Service Department for giving our ladies this opportunity to pursue a truly stable career. We look forward to many years of partnership ahead!
On April 24th, AHUFW opened the doors of their new home to over 100 supporters who helped to dedicate it as Duncan House, a ministry of A Hand Up For Women. This day was the culmination of 15 months of fundraising almost $300, 000.00 and, far more importantly, more miracles than could ever be counted. Duncan House was anointed and prayed over, and to Him be all the glory for what He has done! Download to read more and see the images