In “Desirae’s” words: A reason to keep going

The following speech was delivered by “Desirae,” a survivor and graduate of Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program (EEP), during the January 2021 graduation. Of the 43 graduates, three were selected by class vote to share their thoughts and experiences with the audience.

Read “Desirae’s” speech: 

Good evening, everyone. As we gather this evening to celebrate our graduation, I want to thank the man who started the Economic Empowerment Program from scratch, Angelo J. Rivera. His laying the foundation for this program was amazing, but Angelo would not stop there. He then gathered magnificent people to run it. The EEP team serves the purpose of the program so gracefully – with competence and professionalism, this team has managed to tailor a curriculum that fits the needs of all of us despite the diversity of our members. I don’t know how you all did that, but it is mind-blowing, and it is beautiful that we all received this opportunity. We have benefited so much that we looked forward to coming back again and again to training, day in and day out. Additionally, the training and the Microsoft Office Specialist certifications I now hold are complete game-changers for my job search. That added value to my resume gave me the confidence to aspire for companies I would have only dreamed of working for in the past.

Furthermore, this team showed us that this is not just a “job” for them. They proved on many occasions that there is passion in their approach to this work. This makes a big difference. Many people and organizations want to help, but for one reason or the other, they fail to find the right people to carry their mission forward. Thank you to the EEP team for giving me so much to be thankful for, without taking anything away from me. Thank you for caring.

Someone said that if 2020 was a TV show, it should have been canceled. I ask that we don’t cancel 2020. I understand that the pandemic sucks, the restrictions suck. Many people lost their loved ones to COVID-19, and life, as we are used to, is no longer available. We all are sorrowful for that. But beyond all the despair, I look at the bright side. While the world was asked to exercise social distance, I met and connected with more people than ever before. I was able to go to school and boost my qualifications. All that happened in the comfort of our own homes. I want to thank Sanctuary and all of its partners that made this possible.

To my fellow EEP members, I want to say congratulations. Look at where we are – look at what we have done! Sharing this wonderful journey with you has been an honor and a great privilege for me. Thank you for sharing your stories and thank you for making our community a safe space for everyone. This has meant so much. As we move forward to the next step, let’s not forget that while we don’t know when and what type of recovery the country’s economy will have, one thing that is sure is that we are now commodities for when that recovery comes. We should celebrate our achievements. We had 1,000 reasons to give up, and Sanctuary gave us one reason to keep going. What we acquired in this program is ours – ain’t nobody gonna take it away from us. I love you, and God bless!

All names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.