Voices of Hope – Chimekie J.

“After leaving a women’s residential facility, I went to Angel’s of Mercy transitional home in Sanford, Florida. A lot of the women living there have gone through the Ready4Work program at Operation New Hope and recommended I do the same. At first, I was worried it was going to be just like every other program, but it was far better than expected, and I’m so glad I went.

“The way the Operation New Hope staff interacts with us is really incredible. The counselors, job coaches, instructors, and case managers are so caring. From the very beginning, I was provided clothes and a hygiene kit. Then, they paid my rent for 3 months and provided weekly stipends. The interview prep and education assistance was so helpful, and I’m now enrolled in college to complete my GED.

“A month after completing the Ready4Work program, I started my own nonprofit – Meca’s HIV Awareness Foundation – with the mission of helping people with HIV and AIDS get the resources needed. Through my volunteer efforts and with help from my Ready4Work job coach, I was connected with the nonprofit Miracle of Love, where I now work full time as an HIV Peer Support Specialist. It’s my job to support people and let them know what we need to do to keep going so that we can be there for others who need us.

“I’m almost 2 years sober and staying focused on not practicing old behaviors. I’m happy to share that one of my Board Members learned about how my car kept breaking down and I was having to walk home from school and work, and so she gave me a 2014 Mercedes to use. Plus, it came with a full tank of gas! All I have to do is pay the insurance consistently for a year and it will be mine. Despite freezing up when I see the word TEST, I will complete my GED in less than 90 days.”

“When I look at where I came from and where I am now, it’s incredible. I have come to understand the importance of believing in yourself, and I’ve learned that you have to pick the crowd you hang with carefully. Sure, the alcoholic at the bar will believe in you, but I want CEOs, teachers, and employment agencies believing in me. That’s what I’m working on now and there’s no better time than the present. I am full of hope!”

At Operation New Hope, we believe that we are all better than our worst mistake, worst day, or worst decision. We believe in people’s ability to transform their lives through commitment and hard work. We see it every day as we support our clients’ reentry and growth. With the skills learned and confidence gained from our Ready4Release, Ready4Work and Ready4Success programs, our participants go on to become productive community members and build successful careers earning living wages. Read more stories of transformation, success and hope!

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