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FaithWorks of Abilene

  /  Alumni Stories   /  Dave & TJ

Dave & TJ

In FaithWorks of Abilene’s history, there has only been one couple who began the program together; that is the story of Dave Ray and T.J. Garlett, FaithWorks graduates from 2005. Their stories are so intertwined that they must be told together.

The two landed at FaithWorks shortly after moving to Abilene from California, a self-professed “dead end” for the two rife with bad friends, drugs and bad friends.

They met Terri Simons, a graduate of the inaugural class, and Terri persuaded them to give the program a try.

“We were in a bad place in California. We were going down the wrong path. God was speaking to us, telling us to go to Texas,” Dave said. “I thought, really? We came out here with five kids, a couple animals, a past in addiction and very little money. But we made it work.”

His parents had moved to Abilene the previous year, giving them the strength to give Abilene and FaithWorks a solid effort. Dave had a strong interest in construction, so his FaithWorks internship didn’t take him far from the program. He did his internship for FaithWorks itself remodeling the clothing shop and creating a tiled welcome map there. TJ interned in a special needs program at Bonham Elementary.

Dave transitioned to working for Dalzell Realty following his graduation, and T.J. did some subbing for a few semesters for the Adapt Program at Bonham. But when Dave flipped his first house enlisting T.J.’s help, the two found their calling: together still. Dave and T.J. now have a successful business of buying and flipping houses. They own several rental houses and live in Clyde.  

“FaithWorks brought me closer to God and learn how to build healthy relationships,” T.J. said. And FaithWorks helped her learn “what my interests and abilities are.

“I came from nothing – and FaithWorks put me where I needed to be. FaithWorks helped me re-define me.” She said FaithWorks helped her become more loving and concerned for “people who have faults and struggles in life.”  

“We’re all fixable – if we want to be fixable,” she said.

Dave echoes those sentiments. “FaithWorks kept us grounded in our faith,” he said. They were both touched by the study of the Book of Matthew, conducted by longtime volunteer, Dave Dalzell.  

That faith aspect was a game-changer for them both. “FaithWorks changed how we conduct ourselves with our children and how we interact with other people.” They agree they are both now intentional in their choices of people, places and things. They came to Texas with five children and have since added their sixth.

One daughter also graduated from FaithWorks.

“Now she has a job she loves,” T.J. said.

Through FaithWorks, they’ve made good friends they are still close to, and they both benefitted from the networking through students, staff and the host of volunteers.

“It still is,” Dave said.   “It was the beginning of a new start. This is where the success started.”

“It surpassed our hopes; God has blessed us,” T.J. said.