What circumstances brought you to where you were before you joined Together We Bake?
I came to Virginia in September of 2020 to help my cousin with her illness and children. I thought I was doing a good thing by moving from Detroit, Michigan. I thought, "Why not?" I was in an abusive relationship and needed to relocate to have a fresh start. Ready for new beginnings, I felt refreshed. I realized that I did not know anyone in Alexandria and thought my cousin would be there for me but all she really wanted was my income, and I felt hurt, betrayed, and alone. She ended up making an excuse for why she was kicking me out of her apartment after all I did for her. None of that mattered. She called me awful names and said I was ungrateful. That is how I ended up at Together We Bake.
What inspired you to apply to Together We Bake?
I was inspired by my job counselor at the Alexandria Community Shelter and my caseworker. They both let me know that Together We Bake is a great program and that I should try and see if I would like the program.
How has Together We Bake changed your perspective on life?
I am a work in progress, so now I am starting to have a different perspective. [I'm] going in a positive direction of uplifting myself by simply using motivational quotes each morning that I can wake up to and getting my morning coffee.
Has someone at Together We Bake (a fellow participant, a volunteer, an instructor, etc) had a particular influence on you?
Yes. I am grateful for all the alumni at Together We Bake because I was a mess on a path to self destruction. I did not think anyone cared that I was in a city I barely knew anyone in. All of the bad to worse things that you could think of were happening to me. I felt alone, lost, and defeated. But all of a sudden, it was like the sun was shining on me. When I joined Together We Bake, it was something I felt could help me, so I gave it a try!
How would you describe Together We Bake?
[Together We Bake is] a place of empowerment for a group of women who need support, guidance and togetherness that I have never had before coming here to the program. I felt like I especially needed this program.
What was the most challenging thing about the program? How did you overcome that challenge?
[The most challenging thing was learning] to trust other people because of my anxiety, depression, and issues with trust. I put up many walls so I would not get hurt! As I got to know every one of my classmates [with] each day we spent together, I just knew that I was not alone, and everyone has similar things in common as me! However, my story does not end here when the program ends; I hope to keep in touch with everyone because they all have a special place in my heart!
*Note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.
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