The following speech was delivered by Rebecah, a Sanctuary for Families client, at the Spring 2016 Economic Empowerment Program graduation. Of the 43 graduates in this year’s spring class, four women were selected by class vote to share their stories with the audience.
This is Rebecah’s story.
Good Evening Everyone! Thank you all for coming and thank you to the Economic Empowerment Program’s (E.E.P.) staff and clients for this opportunity to speak today. With so many diverse and wonderful personalities I am sure the choice of graduation speakers was not easy to make.
So I would like to ask everyone, how was your commute? To my graduates, are you happy that you made it?
So am I.
That is what I have been saying since [I] accepted and [started] attending E.E.P. Today I am happy I made it, even [just] this far because this program has not only shaped my future better than any other program (all three of the ones I have done) but it has also given me a support system like no other.
In the moment of it all, I was alone
I walked through Sanctuary’s doors with just a few belongings and my son; with no one to express my deepening sadness or frustrations to. I felt alone and in the moment of it all, I was alone. None of my friends would have been able to fully grasp how I truly felt and words could not express the amount of disappointment I had withheld from them.
I was disappointed in having to rely on public assistance for our survival and had there not been a shelter for me to stay in, I would have been homeless with a newborn baby or stuck in an unforgiving and unloving home trying to escape every form of abuse.
If it wasn’t for Sanctuary for Families, there would be no Economic Empowerment Program to help rescue us from what seemed to be a downward spiraling series of unfortunate events. What would have become of my son?
Another chance at life
Thinking [back on] a time when I sat in my unit at the shelter thinking to myself I am a single mother, jobless, and who the hell cares – I never thought I would be standing here basking in my own achievements. I didn’t want to constantly be a burden to people who had their own worries, so I shared a little and kept everything else to myself.
I just wanted to finish the program and make it into corporate America. I want my son to look up to me with “respeck”! I want America to look at me with the honor of a proud sensei whose student successfully completed every round in Soul Calibur IV. E.E.P. gave me another chance to achieve that, another chance at life!
During my intake, they welcomed me with excitement and more certainty than I’ve ever had or seen in a single room (literally). They broke down everything from what actually matters to employers on a resume, to how they planned to help me get a living wage job. They provided me with a community of women just like me, [all] with vivacious personalities. We helped each other along the way, bonding, listening, and fighting for our goals together. A fight that now we can say we are well on our way to overcoming.
You are the one who got yourself to this place in time
Here we are 4 months later with certifications in Microsoft Office Suite, and professional skills that no one can ever take away. I am currently enrolled in school and working to get into Per Scholas, which provides A+ certification and networking class.
After [my Per Scholas courses] I will be looking for an internship to further develop my skills and then transitioning into a permanent career. So…I have my work cut out for me! But, there are things that I tell myself to help me keep pushing through, that I think would be good for us all to hear.
To all the clients who feel like they still have mountains to climb – remember all the people who doubted you, your deepest despair, and all the people who took you for granted or abused you. THEN, remember why you came to E.E.P., think of how very far you’ve come, and think of your children, and THEN you’ll remember that YOU are the one who got yourself to this place in time – all with the help of Sanctuary’s E.E.P. staff whom I would like to thank greatly for this opportunity to change my life.