When women walk through the doors of Hand UP for Women, they are often at their lowest. Overcoming addiction with nowhere to go and not a cent in their pocket, many come to the organization homeless and without family to support them. Hand UP for Women may be their first step in the recovery process or the last effort in a long and arduous journey. The light at the end of the tunnel can seem like a pin prick too far off to reach.

Many women have found recovery, financial stability and hope in this organization. Women like Anne Hilliard and Crystal Baines have found these things and more from Hand UP.

When Anne Hilliard walked into Hand UP for Women 17 years ago, she arrived on a bus from Michigan. Now she has a stable job and visits with Hand UP on a weekly basis to be a support system for the women currently participating in the program.

Crystal Baines graduated from Hand UP three years ago and has found financial independence through the help of the program. For both these women, they say the journey to financial stability and independence is a continuous effort.

“In the beginning, I didn’t know how to live or spend money,” Baines said. This is true of many of the women that go through the program. Hand UP for Women has courses dedicated to financial responsibility and stability. “Whenever I first started taking classes, something I was told was to keep the receipts for everything I bought to see where I was spending money. From there, I had to make an effort to stop spending the money I had on things I didn’t need.”

The tools given to the women by the financial management class at Hand UP have helped Crystal and Anne form habits that they still employ to this day.

“I’ve learned through the years to budget every time I get my paycheck,” Hilliard said of what the courses at Hand UP have taught her. “Every time I get my paycheck after I tithe to the church, I split it in two and put half into my savings and don’t touch it. I didn’t have a savings account before going to Hand UP for Women.”

Tools for financial stability are just one aspect that resonated with Anne and Crystal. There are many different things that they say have helped them on their road to financial independence.

“I pray about everything,” Hilliard said. “I just feel like, if you keep God first in all things in your life, He can guide you best. When you try to guide yourself, it just doesn’t work.”

Faith has become a large part of the journey for these women and often becomes a large part of many women’s journeys.

Faith and an excellent support system are what Anne said have helped her through the hardest of times.

“The program itself, Hand UP for women, has been a very good thing for me over the years. Being a good support system. So when you hit a roadblock or are even just feeling down, you can call your mentor or just go to the house. It’s nice to be around people who support you,” Hilliard explained.

Crystal feels similarly about the network of support that Hand UP for Women provides.

“My network has saved my life. I can show up to the Hand UP for Women house or call my mentor. I talk a lot with the girls I was in the program with,” she said. She also says this is her biggest piece of advice to women in recovery and seeking financial stability and independence, “Build a network of people you can reach out to, especially in recovery.”

Both women now go back to the Hand UP for Women program weekly to be a support system to other women.

“When we help other people, it helps us,” Crystal said of her going back to Hand UP to support other women.

“Sometimes you just have to get out of yourself,” Hilliard said. “When you help others, it makes you stop thinking about yourself. God blesses me to bless others.”

Anne and Crystal are just two examples of women that Hand UP for Women have helped to find their network and financial independence during their recovery journeys.

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