When I first came to the Center for Sharing 3 years ago, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I was in a very abusive relationship, had a 2-year-old little girl, Aleena, and zero hope that anything would ever change or be different. I had feelings and emotions that were bottled up inside me since childhood, and I was ready to explode. And I did, a lot, in my first days, weeks, and months while working in the Cafe. I had walls built us so tall and thick, and no one was getting in. My defenses were to push people away, because the closer I get to you, the more you’re going to hurt me. Or at least that’s what I thought.

Working here showed me that’s not the case. I was accepted into this family. These people loved me until I learned to even think about loving myself. They walked alongside me until I realized that there is hope. Over time, through taking Servant Leadership courses and learning about Trauma Informed Care, I started feeling freer, lighter, and more able to handle stressful situations. Situations that would usually knock me off my feet and consume me, started to happen less frequently and when they did happen they were not as intense.

Through the work readiness program, and our CASA partners, my daughter and I were able to get into our very own apartment. A safe, affordable place we now call home. Through hard work, long days and nights and the support I received from CFS, I was able to graduate with my AA in 2015 and my AAS in Business Administration in 2017.

Today my sweet Aleena is in a daycare that is teaching her about God, and at 4-years old there are days where she is my teacher. One night, as we are getting ready for bed, I said to her, something about how much energy she has and that I didn’t know where she got it from. She says to me, “I do, from God.” As she’s hugging me one day I heard her whispering something, I asked her what are you saying baby? She said I was praying for you and me.

I’m learning every day and through the Café’s Work Readiness Program I’ve learned that we are all chosen! God chose me for a reason. He brought me here as a war refugee from Bosnia to the Center for Sharing so that I can learn about who I am, so that I can become who He wants me to be. I’ve been blessed with the mentorship from the most amazing spiritual leaders, and now I’m in a position, working full time at CFS as the administrative assistant, where I get to share my experiences and be a mentor to other women who come through our program. My goal is to continue to grow in every area of my life. I want to be a woman who never lacks compassion and encourages my daughter, as well as other women, to be the best that they can

be. Today I’m more connected emotionally, spiritually then I ever thought possible, and because of everything I’ve learned and all the grace I’ve been given I’m able to be a better mother, a better friend, and a better coworker.