Mandy came to FaithWorks of Abilene in the summer of 2017, by way of Noah Project, a local domestic abuse shelter.
She left everything behind, and her children in the care of others, to escape a violent situation and the beginnings of drug abuse.
She came to class a few days late, but just in the nick of time for her. “I was hanging by a thread. I had a very shattered faith.” Mandy sent FaithWorks Executive Director Joyce Dalzell one Saturday afternoon, that, looking back, Mandy said changed the trajectory of her future.
“I was completely emotionally and mentally burned out,” she said. “I told Joyce that I just didn’t know if I was the kind of person for FaithWorks.”
Joyce replied, “You are exactly the kind of person for FaithWorks.”
The abuse she was falling victim to came at the heels of the death of her grandmother and her father, who were her primary caregivers growing up, and a recent surgery.
She resigned her position at the Abilene State Supported Living Center to care for her ailing grandmother, but said she wasn’t able to do it. “I was pouring from an empty cup, but I couldn’t really admit that I couldn’t take care of myself and somebody else.”
Mandy knew that first day in class, “that this is going to work. Every day something would come up that validated that this was right where I needed to be – not only to take the time to heal, but to take part in the changes.”
And the garden was a pivotal piece in Mandy’s puzzle. “I not only like to garden, I also like to pull the weeds in my own life,” she said. Previous to FaithWorks, Mandy spent time working in the Grace Community Garden.
Pulling those weeds started the healing process at FaithWorks. “It became the biggest piece of my foundation that I’ll use for the rest of my life,” Mandy said.
Mandy did her internship at Bowtech Health Center, which offers natural, holistic methods for healing and harmony. After FaithWorks, Mandy reconnected in a healthy way with elements of her past. She re-established relationships with her family and renewed her nursing license. But she also weeded out the bad ties, too, and left them there.
She is now the LVN charge nurse at Coronado Nursing Center, where she often helps other FaithWorks students get internships.
“Just trust the process,” Mandy said. “That’s what I tell anyone who is interested in being a student. Don’t get bogged down in shame and utilize FaithWorks for everything that it is. Life doesn’t change on day one or day two.
“If you go, you’re going to find something that is there for you.”