This excerpt from Romans 5 is embodied beautifully by Vicki, one of our BraveWorks artisans.
Vicki’s mother struggled with being a single mom and raising kids while she herself was still a kid in so many ways. Vicki was passed around to live with various friends and family members during her childhood, and oftentimes these family members put beer in her baby bottle to keep her quiet. Not surprisingly, Vicki started drinking alcohol at 8 years of age. She began smoking weed at 13, about the same time that she dropped out of school and began a life consumed with, as Vicki describes it, “drinking and drugging”.
Fast-forward to 2008 when Vicki met our Executive Director, Beth Bell, at a literacy class at The Harvest Center, and they developed a deep friendship that has lasted years. In the Achievers literacy class, Vicki gained a community of support and, after several years, obtained her GED. Vicki has now been sober for 10 years! Vicki worked at Walgreens for 8 of those years and was named Employee of the month over a dozen times.
But eventually Vicki had to stop working due to her disabilities. Being alone and having no purpose in her life impacted Vicki’s emotional health, and she found herself thinking suicidal thoughts and wanting to escape from the world. he would spend days under her covers with the blinds drawn, alone and in misery. Beth noticed that Vicki was dealing with emotional problems and suggested BraveWorks as a healing place for Vicki.
"I am so thankful that I joined BraveWorks. I am thankful to Beth for letting me join BraveWorks because the moment she asked me to join I was looking for something to do because I had an empty void in my soul, and then I was so excited to become part of BraveWorks' artisan program because I love arts and crafts."
"I had a lot of time on my hands and depression was also affecting my life and I would often think of suicide, but BraveWorks saved my life. Not being around community also affected my emotional health. I had church on Sundays, but I was not emotionally fulfilled at the time due to my isolation. When BraveWorks invited me to join the artisan program, I was super excited and accepted in a heartbeat, and life came back to me. My true self came out, and I could be myself at BraveWorks. I needed a safe place to be myself and express myself, and BraveWorks is my safe haven to do just that".
"I love getting to meet different people. People here are so wonderful and positive and give me positive thoughts and purposeful work to do. I get to learn different ways to be creative. I recently created a candle at BraveWorks. Crafting and community have been key to improving my mental and emotional health. Crafting is also great to help my brain learn new things. Consistency and repetition also helped improve my memory. I used to forget where I placed items as I was designing, but now I am getting more comfortable and my memory is improving. I am also learning from the financial literacy volunteers how to save money with the budgeting tactics."
"The stipend from BraveWorks helps me a lot. My monthly disability check gets my bills paid, but then I don't have much left to get food. The money that I get from BraveWorks I use to buy groceries as well as hot meals from my favorite food chain, Bojangles. I am also grateful for the hot meals every week at BraveWorks. The stipend also allows me to save a little bit each week, which I need for my future."
"All the artisans at BraveWorks have different stories. Some are working through life's struggles, and some are overcoming them. When people talk about their struggles it helps us create deep bonds with one another. We help boost one another into overcoming these challenges."
"I also love the mentors and volunteers. They pour positivity and God's words into me. BraveWorks is healing for me, like church. On my way there I am in one state of mind, and then I come out of BraveWorks a whole new person with positive ideas and positive reinforcements that help me continue my days with hope."
"BraveWorks makes me stronger within and has helped me become brave. I can hold my head up. I am more confident. My outlook on life is positive for a change. Now I face each challenge knowing I can tackle any situation and work towards a solution!”