A Changed Life
“I am here to testify that God is still in the delivery business,” says Online CAMA student Joanne. And, she will tell anyone who will listen that when you are ready, really ready, God will give you the strength to follow a new path.
The path Joanne had been on for twenty years was one of pain and misery. “Cocaine is a hard thing to get off of, and I want people to know that they can get off it if they really want to be delivered,” she says. “I credit the Lord and give him all the praise, honor and glory. If it wasn’t for Him I would not have been able to do it.”
No one in Joanne’s life had much hope. Too many declarations of change had failed.
“It was bad,” she reflects. “I was at the lowest point. Went to jail 18-times, prison twice, jumping in and out of cars, selling my body. But, I think the Lord knows when you’re ready in your heart.”
Finally paroled, Joanne moved far from home and was living in a women’s shelter when she and about a dozen other women also living there started attending services at the Temple of Christ Church in Charlotte, NC through the church’s ministry outreach program.
“The church took me in and gave me a lot of love and encouragement, all the incentive I needed to be the best that I could be and live a Christian life.”
Over the last four years Joanne has found her truest self and a life of service. She is very involved in her church as a Youth Director, Sunday School Superintendent and usher. Joanne’s life also found steadier ground when, at about that same time, she went to work for an extended stay hotel. Reflecting her newfound need for more order in her life, Joanne started out as a housekeeper. Ninety days later she was promoted to Head Housekeeper and 90-days after that she was promoted to Executive Housekeeper, where she still works training and supervising cleaning staff, inspecting their work, writing daily action plans and ordering supplies.
Joanne enjoys her work, but remembers her earlier years working as a nursing assistant and how much it meant to her to care for the needs of others. “The medical field was always my dream because I like helping people and have a compassion for them,” she says.
Joanne’s daughter, Danielle, had just started SJVC’s Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting online program, so Joanne thought she might give it a try too. The problem: she had not been in a classroom in almost thirty years, so her confidence was thin. Her son, Terrence, gives her phone calls of support along the way.
“I was a little skeptical because it had been so long since I was out of school and I was working full-time,” she says. “But I was determined and came straight home from work and dug into the books.”
Joanne pushed through and finished her first module with a 4.0 GPA.
Online classes were perfect for Joanne. “I like going to discussion forums with students in different parts of the country, hearing what they have to say, and I like having them respond to my posts,” she says.
“She’s a great person, a hardworking student, and I look forward to our tutoring sessions,” says Pamela Soto Gonzalez, Student Advisor. “She’s not afraid to ask for help, and her academic discipline is perfect for Online.”
Joanne is already looking around the corner of this new path toward a career as a Registered Nurse. “Now that I know I have the drive and can do it, I might as well keep on going,” she says.
Graduation from her CAMA program will be the second celebration of her new life. Last year Joanne was baptized in her church, where family and friends came from her hometown to celebrate her spiritual commitment.
“Aunts, cousins, sister, children, mother – people I grew up with in the neighborhood; they all came to hear my testimony,” says Joanne. “They knew I’d been on drugs for years and they were amazed that God had delivered me.”
The life Joanne used to have is a far distant picture she can barely bring into focus. “I am so relieved and thankful that He has delivered me,” says Joanne. It’s not painful, and I’m not ashamed. I am not boastful. I’m just grateful for the people that God has placed in my life to help me get to where I am now.”
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