This wonderful ministry has brought me to the best part of my life! After my mother’s passing in 2010, my second divorce in 2013, and poor financial choices I had made throughout my adult life, I found myself very depressed, over 50, and going nowhere. I was living paycheck to paycheck with little to show for it. My wonderful family was very supportive of me, for which I am forever grateful. But each time they had to help me, I felt more like a loser. In short, I was a mess. I cried all the time, moped around, and did no more than was absolutely necessary.
Then, in the fall of 2015, my brother guided me to Hand UP For Women. I really wanted to change the trajectory of my life, and God put that very opportunity in front of me. I started classes in November of that year with a fair amount of reluctance and skepticism. Especially about God and religion. My mother had taken us to church when we were children, but as I approached my teenage years and adulthood, I was determined to steer my own course. I had moved away from God.
I came to classes and listened. I cried a lot when topics got close to my personal wounds. I enjoyed the different classes, learned to forgive myself for my past failings, and how to forgive others. I received a well-rounded variety of classes, teaching many practical aspects of life, as well as instruction in Christianity. I kept on listening, asked questions, and thought a lot about the things that Eva, Karen, and our instructors said. After a few months, I began to feel that wonderful thing we know as faith. Life seemed better, I was happier, my outlook was brighter. I started attending Fellowship Church with my brother and his family.
When I came to Hand UP, I had been working for a temp agency. In February of 2016, I was hired permanently by the company to which I had been assigned. But, just one month later, they laid me off. I was devastated! BUT, because of the teachings I had received, and my growing faith, I looked to heaven and gave it to God. And He gave back! I was hired by Walgreen’s within 3 weeks. I continued my classes, learning more and more about God and myself, gaining confidence and a new perspective all the while.
In June of that year, Eva approached me about Hand UP’s partnership with the City of Knoxville’s Second Chances program. I was accepted and worked a 12-week paid internship in three areas of the Public Service department, while working weekends at Walgreen’s. I got the opportunity to work in Horticulture, which is a love of mine, received instruction in how to obtain a commercial driver’s license, drove a big truck, and learned how to operate some of the city’s heavy equipment. Second Chances is basically a 12-week job interview, so just before my internship ended, I applied for a permanent Public Service Worker position. After going through several interviews, I received the best Christmas present ever when I was offered the job on December 20th! I began my new career on January 3rd, 2017 and received a promotion in 2019!
Hand UP For Women provides the building blocks to be successful in all aspects of our lives. It is a safe place to open up and let our hurts show. And opening up is the first step toward healing. We gain empathy from the trials of our sisters and learn that we are not alone in the fears and problems that we face. We are taught practical skills to improve our employability and secure a solid financial future. Most importantly, we learn to value ourselves as God values us. I had always foolishly believed that I was in control of my destiny, that I determined how my life would go. Obedience had never been my strong suit. Until I became obedient to God and was rewarded with His amazing grace. I am far from perfect, but God’s love and Christ’s blood gives me redemption through mercy and grace.
Hand UP For Women has changed my life and, most importantly, changed me. I am forever thankful to Bill Cahill for telling my brother about Hand UP, and to my brother, Glenn, for guiding me there.