The holidays are a time to celebrate the many joys in life and to reflect on all the things there are to be thankful for, but for women in need, the spirit of the season can be a difficult time of year.

“Most of them can’t look back fondly and remember holidays filled with happiness and peace with warm family memories. The few that did have been through so much since that it feels like a lifetime ago.” Executive Director, Eva Pierce, said about the women in the program during the holiday season.

As the Executive Director she has had the opportunity to spend time with the ladies in the program during the holidays.

The volunteers for Hand UP for Women work tirelessly every holiday season to make sure their ladies feel loved and supported when they can’t be with their friends and family.

“We spoil them rotten at Christmas,” Pierce said about the Hand UP for Women participants, “These ladies work hard to see to their children and grandchildren have a good Christmas, plus there are innumerable programs to help with that. So we make it our mission to make sure our ladies feel the magic of Christmas themselves.”

Each participant is given a slew of presents at the annual Christmas party. These gifts are supplied by donations from donors and volunteers to make sure all the ladies of Hand UP for Women feel a spark of hope in a difficult time.

“Many of them have told me it’s the first real Christmas they ever had…one of whom was 67 years old! It really is like watching children on Christmas morning,” Pierce said.

Even in the most festive of times with Hand UP for Women, the focus is still placed on care and community for these women who are trying to better their lives for good. The holidays can be a time of overindulgence and risk for those recently in recovery, so celebrating Christmas with Hand UP helps to remove the risk of relapse for these women.

“Our philosophy for achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety and life change is ‘New playground, new playmates.’ So, they begin building a new peer group away from addiction and all that goes with it when they join us,” Pierce said about the program, “Every topic we teach reinforces their recovery, and we provide them with activities that do the same. We also address and help them process their feelings regarding their past choices and the consequences that have changed what their holidays look like.”

Hand UP for Women provides participants with classes and programs that teach women about life management, career readiness, financial planning and spiritual development. These classes prepare them for their future.

While the holidays can be hard, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for program participants. \ Hand UP for Women provides them the opportunity to succeed in getting back on their feet, securing housing and enjoying the holidays with their families and friends.

The women of Hand UP can find comfort and support, not only in their fellow participants, but the hope and strength that God provides. We help our ladies develop or re-develop a relationship with Christ and build upon that Christian foundation for their life.

“A graduate from a couple years ago had lost custody of her daughter six years ago and refused to celebrate Christmas or put up a Christmas tree until she got her back. This year, the tree is up and her daughter, plus a younger son, will be home with their mom!” Pierce said of a recent graduate. She reminded, there are many other stories just like this one.

The hope that Hand UP for Women provides to East Tennessee ladies in need, is vital to recovery. Especially at the time of year everyone envisions enjoying with family and friends. Through community and care, Hand UP for Women is giving that hope back to women in need throughout Christmas and the New Year.

To support women who are rebuilding their lives to become self-sufficient and financially stable productive members of society, donate here.