“If my story hadn’t taken me into a children’s home, and then the Hope Program, I wouldn’t be where I am today. At best, I would have graduated from junior high, lived with my aunt, and became a mother figure to my younger siblings,” Evelyn responded matter-of-factly.
Thirteen years ago, at age 14, she moved into Douglas Children’s Home. At 16, she transitioned to the Hope Program and studied in high school. At 18, she entered college, majoring in Communication Sciences. Today, she works as an Account Executive for an international logistics company, specializing in import and export. In her story, like most, real victory came in between these highlights.
Evelyn used to watch the daughter of staff members come and go each day, dressed in business clothing. One day, after seeing her come home from a day’s work, Evelyn called out, “Hey! So what do you do?” The conversation that followed was the first step into Evelyn’s future.
“It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do after high school,” shared Evelyn. “I remember my house parents worrying about how long it took me to decide.” It wasn’t long before she decided to pursue a degree in Communications Sciences at a local university.
Watching the biological children of her Hope Program parents chase their university dreams motivated Evelyn to do the same. “Seeing the victories their children had, and the integrity they brought into every interaction, made me want to succeed.” It was from watching how they made decisions and interacted with their parents that helped Evelyn feel at home. “I’d never been a part of a family before, and they welcomed me without question. It changed everything.”
Today, Evelyn’s day-to-day looks much like any other young professional working within their career. She rises early to go to the gym before work. During the day, she interacts with clients and takes part in meetings, and afterwards she attends dance lessons, visits friends and mentors on the Back2Back campus, or she stays in and cooks with her little sister.
Evelyn is determined. “In five years, I hope to be pursuing my master’s degree in business,” she shared. Evelyn’s past will not stand in the way of her future. She lives with her younger sister and works hard to make sure they have what they need – not just a roof over their heads and food on the table, but a family environment in which they can thrive.
Evelyn is strong. Her previous hurts and hurdles have not defined the woman she is today. Once a young girl whose highest aspirations were to graduate junior high, Evelyn now owns her own car, speaks fluent English, and is an example in how to overcome the things you cannot control.
Evelyn is a fighter. She saw the dedication it took of her Hope Program parents to raise the girls living in their home, and it fueled her own perseverance. She knew pain from her story as a vulnerable child, and she refused to let that pain define her. She wants to be known as a woman of integrity, both at work and at home.
Evelyn is a young woman setting and achieving goals. She takes the wisdom she received from mentors, and now shares it with younger women. She does not allow what happened before to determine what will happen next. Evelyn was once a vulnerable child unsure about every step, and now, is a woman pursuing Jesus and planning the next ten.
Above all, this is hope.