April — At Home with Freedom
I grew up in poverty, living in the Bottoms on the Westside of Columbus. Both my mother and step-dad were alcoholics and addicts. The smell of marijuana and empty beer bottles on the table was the norm in my home. I can’t remember ever having a real schedule in my home; it was very dysfunctional and unpredictable. Education was one of the many fatalities of this war of life I lived. I got into drugs at an early age, and my mother signed papers for me to drop out of school. I guess you could say my upbringing was training for the life of human trafficking that would eventually choose me for its dirty deeds. I was a young girl with no true direction in my life, with no positive role models to help me find my way. Looking back, I see what my human traffickers must have seen when they coerced me into that life – easy prey.
The change in my life started in 2010 when I was put into a treatment program in lieu of serving jail time for criminal activity. After three successful years of continued sobriety I was ready to take the next step in becoming a productive member of society. I started my job search. I still remember that time with anxiety. I submitted countless applications with no luck. The rejection fostered feelings of not being worthy or good enough, and even positive self-talk couldn’t overcome the self-doubt. It seemed like no employer wanted to take a chance on me.
Then I heard about Freedom a la Cart and arranged for an interview. I can still remember how I felt that day. It was so much more than just a job to me. It was an opportunity to show the world that I’m serious about life and that I can be valued as an employee, and as a woman. Little did I know what Freedom would become to me and how instrumental it would be in my life. The first few years at Freedom taught me how to be a dependable team player, how to receive and give instruction, how important visual food presentation is to our customers, and how valuable good customer service is to a growing company. I learned how important it is, not only to Freedom but myself, to be on time and do my job to the best of my ability. Freedom has also been a big support in my recovery and educational dreams, always scheduling my hours around the demands that come with building a new, sober life.
Today I have almost seven years of sobriety, earned my GED and am currently studying social work and addiction studies at Columbus State Community College. I’ve been an employee of Freedom for 4 years, two years as lead kitchen supervisor, and recently joined the management team as the new case manager. This new role allows me the ability to help the new trainees of Freedom in their quest to fulfill their dreams and rebuild their lives. I’m overwhelmed with love and joy for this organization that loves survivors so much that they take on the responsibilities and challenges that come with this special population of ladies in order to train them to be employable and self-sufficient.
Freedom not only gave me valuable workforce skills but the self-respect and courage to succeed in all areas of my life. I often look at my life today with wonder, amazement and gratitude that such greatness is my life. After generations of my family relying on food stamps and government assistance, I have proudly broken the chain. I’m now in the process of buying my first home and Freedom is right here with me on the ride — with support, love and encouragement. I know without a doubt that my life would not be what it is today without Freedom.