This past Thursday we celebrated, in an auditorium filled with family, friends, encouragers and former graduates, as we completed our summer FaithWorks class. Our 37th class is a determined group of students, who named their class The Unshaken.
It is always a highlight of graduation to hear the stories. Every student has a story – an incredible story of change in direction, or change in momentum, or of simply realizing that “if I don’t change what I am doing I am going to become the person that ‘they’ say I will become. “
Thursday’s speakers were “Judicious” Jack, “Merciful” Meghan, and “Brave” Brenda.
Jack’s journey began sitting beside a dumpster behind the Highland Church. He tells of Community Minister, Joe Almanza giving him a safe place to sleep and then Jeremy Glover and friends helping him settle into a halfway house while making the commitment to walk with him through this 13-week semester. David Wray was Jack’s FaithWorks Friend, meeting Jack for lunch each week; helping with transportation and meals during Jack’s recovery from foot surgery. Jack says, “The best thing I have gotten out of FaithWorks is that it gave me the time to be around people that had faith in me, that supported me, and gave me the time to start having faith in myself.” Jack is looking for work in a shipping and receiving department or as a local driver.
Meghan is the third sister in her family to attend FaithWorks. Although Meghan had had years of long-term employment, she found herself in a “dark depressing place” and knew she needed to do something about it. “Classy” Cassi, her sister, reminded her that a new semester was beginning and that she encouraged her to apply. Meghan credits the many things she has learned through the connections she made during FaithWorks: her FaithWorks Friend, Becky Porche; the Highland Church of Christ and the wonderful people at the Department of Aging and Disability Services where she served as an intern. She says, “The most important thing has been I found myself again…I don’t feel like I am nothing anymore. My self-confidence is higher than it has ever been, due to the program. I am able to live a stable life to the fullest…to get back on the horse when I fall off. Most importantly, that I am never alone!”
“Brave” Brenda tells of being in a “vicious circle of not having a job, no money, no transportation, utilities being cut off and no food in the fridge.” She was “hopeless and tired of life” when she stumbled into BOBS, Breakfast on Beech Street and heard about FaithWorks of Abilene. Through research, interviews and an internship at The Oaks at Radford Hills, Brenda has identified THE job as Medical Laboratory Technician. Brenda tells of what a great mentor her FaithWorks Friend, Patricia Hernandez was. Patricia came to lunch each week with Brenda’s best interest at heart. Some weeks there were specific topics that Brenda needed to talk through and some weeks, when Brenda did not feel like talking, Patricia was still patiently attentive, never pushing.
“My very favorite part of FaithWorks is the people I am blessed by each semester. Many of these are men and women that I would not have met if I had not had the chance to spend a season with. “
Every person has a story!!! It is the story of who they are. Their story is a map of where they have been, it shows where they are now, and predicts where they will go next. I love seeing the place on that map that is FaithWorks of Abilene.
We begin again THIS MONDAY, September 14th. And we have room for a few more stories.