In 2014, Brandy decided to make a change.
“I really knew I needed to do something different after I accidentally took too much of a certain medication,” she said. “It should have killed me. That’s when my boyfriend and I decided to do something.”
Brandy learned about the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Abilene from a friend at her church who invited her to some of the job skills classes offered on a weekly basis.
The Christian Women’s Job Corps helps women make decisions to build self-sufficiency into their households by offering job and life skills training, community and emotional support. A ministry of Woman's Missionary Union, CWJC provides biblically-based classes to women seeking employment and stability. The program ministers to women in vulnerable situations by providing spiritual, personal and vocational training and support. Churches across the state offer CWJC classes to women in community.
“At that point I really hadn’t worked since I had my first child out of high school. I thought it would be helpful to know what the working world needed, but it was mostly a way to get out of the house,” Brandy said. “Within the first couple weeks I learned really important life skills and it forced me to confront myself, my past and that I didn’t have to play the victim anymore.”
Brandy is not alone.
In July 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.6 percent of Texans were unemployed.* Unemployment tends to have a particularly pronounced effect on women who are primary income sources for households under the poverty level.
Just after graduating the program, Brandy began work at a Pizza Hut and two months later was promoted to a management position.
Today, she is living in Oklahoma near her family and is enrolled in Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. This year, the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Abilene awarded a scholarship to Brandy.
“I had learned how to manage my time, my money and my life,” she said. “These were really just part of being an adult but no one had ever shown me how,” she said. “I’m in a better place now. I’m older, all my kids are grown themselves, and I can take classes,” she said. “I’m studying business administration. I learned to balance my life and my time and now I can do these classes and work.”
While Brandy is no stranger to adversity, her story reflects one of hope, grace, and resilience.
“You can’t give up,” she said. “There is a light at the end of your tunnel.”
Texas Baptist congregations support the work of ministries alleviating hunger in the state and abroad by contributing to the Hunger Offering. The Christian Women’s Job Corps of Abilene is one of many ministries the Hunger Offering supports and is an example of a Christian program that supports families breaking the cycle of poverty.
To find out more about the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, check out hungeroffering.org or on social media @HungerOffering.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas. (n.d.). Retrieved August 31, 2016, from http://www.bls.gov/regions/southwest/texas.htm