The music in the church was loud and joyful. There were tears streaming down the faces of family and friends. There was a pride in the graduates’ steps that brought tears to my eyes as well. Sharon had invited me to attend her graduation, and I was pleased to share in her celebration.
Sharon was an employee of Calvary – a cleaning assistant for one of our housing programs. Her position was a part of our supported employment program that assists women in building their job skills and re-entering the job market. Not only was Sharon hard-working and effective at her job, her sense of humor made her delightful to work with each day. She frequently told me how important her job was to her and how much better she felt about herself now that she was working again.
I’ve heard many other women share this same sentiment. Their self-esteem increased dramatically when they had a job where they could use their skills and earn the resources to support themselves and their families.
A woman named Nina recently moved into Calvary Women’s Shelter. She had lost her job in another state and moved back to DC to be closer to her family. Unfortunately the situation in her sister’s home was not safe, so Nina moved into Calvary. She told me how anxious she is to get a job and earn enough to afford rent again. “I even dream of owning my own business someday,” she shared.
Sharon and the other four women who have worked at Calvary in the past year have all moved into new jobs after completing our supported employment program. While Calvary gave them the initial opportunity, each woman’s success is a testament to the amount of hard work she gave back. Women like Sharon and Nina have a different type of motivation. For them, a job is not just a paycheck – it is the first step in a second chance. It is a reminder that with the right support, she can once again take control of her own future.