My name is Amber and I would like to start this note by saying thank you for this opportunity. The most amazing part of this blessing is the timing of it. I’d like to share a little bit about myself and my situation.
I am 37 years old and have many parts of a past. I was released 8 months ago from Denver Women’s prison and sadly admit I have been a part of the prison system since the day I was born in a Louisiana penitentiary.
I was surrounded as a young girl by family members who used and sold drugs. My mother was addicted to heroin and was in and out of the prison system and frequently in unhealthy relationships with men. My sister had a crack addiction and introduced me to drugs at the age of eleven and sold me to a man for crack. I spent the next 5 years of my life developing my own addiction to drugs as a way to escape from my own reality and loss of innocence and childhood.
I became a woman and gave birth to my first daughter when I was 18. My second child, a son, was born when I was 21. I gave birth to three more daughters when I was 22, 23 and 24. Between the ages of 24 and 37, I was in and out of the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility.
My very first felony was a domestic violence situation that went bad. I was abused by my partner for so many years and I finally got a lucky punch in, but it cost me five years of my life. My kids had to live with their grandparents.
I was incarcerated three more times due to my addiction and drug-related convictions resulting in a total of twelve years in and out of prison. In 2012 I was sentenced to Tooley Hall, a halfway house for women like me. I arrived at Tooley with only the clothes on my back and a prayer that this time I would actually break the pattern I was in.
Women’s Bean Project was a hot topic among the women at Tooley Hall. I was somewhat familiar with the Bean Project because it is located in my old neighborhood and many of the women I ran the streets with had been a part of the program. Everyone told me I should apply for a job at Women’s Bean Project, so I did and I found myself sitting in front of Lisa, the case manager at the time, sharing my story, making my case and praying to be given an opportunity. I’m not sure if it was my story or the fight in my eyes that got me hired that day, but whatever it was, it was the second chance at life that I had been looking for.
Today, I have my freedom and am the proud mother of 4 beautiful girls and a sixteen year old boy. We are all fighting to break the pattern of my family history. I want my kids have a different life and experience than I had as a very young child.
I am a graduate of Women’s Bean Project. A lot of my growth has come from their support and the program. I now live in Greeley, CO and I work full-time at the University of Northern Colorado in their janitorial department. I have my own apartment and savings and am proud to say that I am ahead in my rent. I have been carpooling with a coworker when the weather is bad and otherwise I ride my bike to work. It has been very difficult for me to travel back and forth to Denver where my children live and go to school.
Having a vehicle will be such a wonderful tool for me and my family. My 16 year old son, Levi, is coming to stay with me this summer and was a bit reluctant about it because I don’t have a car of my own. This opportunity through Hands Automotive would change all of that.
Having a car will allow my relationship with my kids to become stronger and also give me more flexibility with work and the opportunity to work more hours. It gives me so much more room to grow. Once again, thank you so very much for this blessing.
A mother in need & very much grateful,
A Blessing in Disguise
Four women, including Amber will receive a vehicle during the annual Hands of The Carpenter benefit event May 9, 2015 in Lakewood. “The women receiving vehicles have been nominated by leaders of other nonprofit organizations in the community”, says Dan Georgopulos, Founder and CEO of Hands of The Carpenter. This annual event utilizes vehicles donated by the public. Each vehicle is given the proper repair and maintenance at Hands Automotive, then repurposed to women in need who are demonstrating a strong desire for self-sufficiency.
Hands of The Carpenter is a local faith-based nonprofit organization that provides automobile repair, maintenance and related education to single mothers and widows in need so they reach and maintain self-sufficiency.
Hands Automotive is a social enterprise automobile repair shop owned by Hands of The Carpenter, located in the heart of Lakewood. It is a Napa AutoCare Center and staffed by ASE certified technicians.The business spends 80% of the time serving the general public, which provides the resources to spend 20% of the time helping women in need.