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As you know, we had a sellout crowd at the Gala.  Many people came to celebrate 30 years of helping homeless families and to honor Nancy Woods who touched so many lives while running the Family Shelter.  The dining room was filled to the brim with Family Promise supporters and their guests.  Our speakers were ready – a young mom with two children and an eleven year old girl.  

The mom had entered the program just a few short months before, timid and afraid.  Initially, her soft voice and limited eye contact conveyed her lack of self-confidence.  The eleven year old was your typical middle schooler – sometimes insecure, always questioning, trying to figure out life.  

As both of them worked on their speeches, I saw the shift happen almost before my very eyes.  Putting their stories down on paper, each realized that the person she described in the first one or two paragraphs was no longer the person they had become.  They were stronger, surer of their abilities and emboldened by their successes. Was it the support of case management, the empowerment workshops, the time to regroup, the positive feedback from our volunteers or the self-fulfillment of getting a full-time supervisory position or making the honor roll?

In the end, the mom delivered her speech with a clear, audible voice.  She did not sound timid or afraid.  She used powerful words to describe her journey, where she had come from and where she was headed (to finish college), all the while with a confident smile on her face.  She was fantastic!

Not surprising, the young girl didn’t make it as far.  At the last moment, a flurry of stage fright got the best of her.  And who can blame her?  Surveys show that public speaking is feared more than death by a majority of people. I read her words aloud attempting to match the emotion in her voice when she had read it to me the night before.  I looked into the audience and saw people, some crying, others with their mouths agape.  Her words were filled with emotion and gratitude.

This part of the newsletter is for a family success story.  This month we have two.