The participants of the Empowerment2Employment program are very much like mammoth icebergs in the midst of an arctic sea; choosing to reveal just a small portion to the public but hiding a colossus structure beneath the depth of an endless ocean. E2E staff often receive phone calls from troubled individuals who are economically challenged due to a lack of employment on the surface, but haunted by inner demons, a gloomy past, and toxic individuals within their depths.
Linda was one of these icebergs. On the surface, she was a young, unemployed mother in dire need of employment. Beneath the surface of the water, however, she was the victim of a seemingly unending cycle of domestic violence. When she could no longer tolerate traumatic episodes of physical and emotional abuse, Linda decided to flee to Osceola County with her children. She did not have a plan nor much hope at the time, but that didn’t matter. Enough was enough and she needed to escape.
Even after enduring such heartache, however, she remained proactive in her search for stability and healing. She eventually found work at a local workers’ compensation office and discovered an outreach center with a mission to help women that experienced what she had once experienced. While the personal progress she was making at the outreach center was phenomenal, her new position at the workers’ compensation office was not as exciting. “I felt imprisoned,” said Linda, and although the income she gained from this position was far from frugal, she was incapable of seeing her children the way she felt a mother should.
A steady income was meaningless if she would not be able to spend time with those whom she worked so laboriously for. Thankfully, the advocates had a solution. “You should call Jackie,” they told Linda as they handed her one of Jackie’s business cards. Linda let not a single second go to waste and dialed Jackie’s number instantly. Jackie was moved by Linda’s story and made her a promise of the kind only Jackie herself can make; “As soon as you leave your job, I promise I will find you a great position that functions well with your life.” A promise like this is usually not enough to convince a person, but as Linda remembers, there is something different about Jackie’s promises. “The warmth in her voice and the confidence she had in her words compelled me to have faith in her,” says Linda.
Eventually, Linda left her position at the workers’ compensation office and attended Boot Camp, a mandatory training piece for Community Vision’s workforce programs. By the second day, Jackie lived up to her promises and informed her about an ideal opportunity. “I have found you a position at a wonderful organization named Help Now. They work with victims of domestic violence like yourself. If you are interested, your interview is only a phone call away.” Linda could not believe her ears. Not only did working at Help Now of Osceola County mean that she would have the flexibility to spend time with her beloved children, but it also meant that she would have the opportunity to forge a weapon against domestic violence out of every ounce of pain she stored in her heart.
Ever since that day, Linda has proudly represented Help Now as a Domestic Violence Children’s advocate. Linda described the opportunity to step into her role at Help Now as “receiving a check for a million dollars.” She is a survivor, and she now gets to ensure that other victims can say the same thing. “I love my job so much. Initially, I thought it would make me vulnerable and that I may not be able to handle it, but over the past eleven months that I have been serving the community as an advocate, I can only say that it’s made me so much stronger,” she explains.
Unlike the circumstances of her past, Linda is now stable. She owns her own home, rises in the morning to serve the community through a career she loves, she is financially stable, and her children are safe. When asked if she had any final words before concluding our interview with her, she ended with the following words: “I would like to thank Community Vision so much for their program. It actually works. When Jackie said she would find me a career, she did exactly that. She spoke a plan into existence, and that plan remains true in my life until today. I want to thank everyone in Community Vision for their love and hard work from the bottom of my heart. I love Community Vision because it’s an organization that it is what it says it is.”
*Disclaimer – The participant’s name has been changed to maintain her privacy. The name of the “outreach center” in this story has intentionally been omitted.