I was born the youngest of three into a abusive and alcoholic home. The saving force
for us children was our grandmother Clara Wilson. She taught us to survive in a
hard world with love and the example of her life. I was nine years old when my parents
divorced and my sister and I went to live with our mother. By the time I was fourteen
I was on my own working and paying bills. I lived with friends until at sixteen
I found out my mother had given birth to my little brother, Thomas. She intended
to give him up for adoption, but I couldn't see giving away my little brother. My
older brother, sister and I were very close growing up and Thomas was one of us.
I moved back in with my mother, worked full time and cared for Thomas. At nineteen
I couldn't live with my mother any longer so Thomas and I got our first home. I
was married at twenty-one and lived peacefully for six years. In 1999 I developed
cancer and underwent six months of chemotherapy. At the end of the chemo I began
having severe headaches and a brain tumor was discovered. I had surgery in January
of 2000, then another six months of recovery time.
During this year I lost my brother to my mother and my marriage to adultery. I worked
as a restaurant manager for four years and assumed I would never have children of
my own. However, in 2004 I discovered I was pregnant! I was excited, but scared
because it was the pregnancy hormone that had made the tumor grow to a dangerous
size. I made it through the pregnancy without any major problems and gave birth
to a beautiful baby girl, Hollie Clara named after my grandmother. I tried to make
things work with her father but he became abusive and I couldn't put Hollie through
the pain that I had gone through, so with a bag of clothes and $20 we came to Burnsville
N.C. to the women’s shelter. My strength and self esteem was gone and I didn't know
how I was going to care for myself and my daughter.
The Lord led me to WHO WOMEN and they gave me a chance that I couldn't see at the
time. I cried almost every day for a month and Mat James (the founder of WHO WOMEN)
gave me a shoulder to cry on, but after a month she showed me that the time for
tears was over and the time to begin building my new life was at hand. WHO WOMEN
provided me with transportation to work and school where I got my GED. I was able
to get enough money for a car and enough to get our own apartment. I however didn't
have enough to pay the deposit on electric service. WHO WOMEN came through yet again
with a loan of the $200.00 which was paid back in installments.
I worked in the kitchen of WHO WOMEN for four months baking, packaging, and shipping
the wonderful products all around the country. I was given the responsibility of
working food shows with Earthfare, managing the kitchen, and shipments which helped
me regain my confidence.
My job with WHO WOMEN was a seasonal one and with the encouragement I received,
I was able to get a job with a local grocery store as the produce manager. In the
last year I have helped to increase sales by nearly fifty percent, and have received
all the bonuses available. WHO WOMEN, however, was not out of my life. They honored
me with their first scholarship to begin a degree in computer technology. The scholarship
included a computer which I never could have afforded on my own. I now have a bright
future to look forward to and more importantly, my daughter has opportunities that
I never had.
The love and support I have received from WHO WOMEN has not only taught me the meaning
of giving to others who need a helping hand, but this experience has taught my daughter
the same lesson of love. I now look for ways to give back whenever I can I still
work with WHO WOMEN in any way they need, I also serve on the Board of Directors
of the Family Violence Coalition, and recently donated fourteen inches of my hair
to Locks of Love. I was taught as a child by my grandmother that even though life
can be cold and cruel, sometimes it is the people with the strength of love in their
hearts that bring the warmth back to those that need it the most. Through certain
hardships that I have faced I almost forgot that important lesson, but the wonderful
women at WHO WOMEN have reminded me of it by the example of their lives and unwavering
devotion to all those who come in contact with them.