Amanda is a young, single mom who graduated from our program about a year ago and recently returned to the Village of Hope to share in front of a group of our constituents.
In sharing part of her story and her journey in life after leaving our program, Amanda explored the idea of “success.”
She wrote the following words and I found them compelling and wanted to share with you.
amanda 2
A very wise man from my childhood, by the name of Mr. Rogers (won’t you be my neighbor?), once told a story of a young apprentice.  He went to a master, applying for a job. The master asked him, “Have you ever made a mistake?” The young man responded confidently, “No! Never. ” The master answered him, “Then there’s no way I can hire you. Because when you make one, you won’t know how to fix it.”
When I first entered job search as a student [at the Village of Hope]. I was looking to work with kids. For reasons out of my control, I was told I had to do a second job workshop. I tried everything I could to get out of it. But Derrick [senior Case Manager] said no. Everyone said no. When I walked in the first day, Joey said to me, “Ms. Stahmer, I didn’t think you were going to show.” To which I flatly replied, “I wasn’t aware I had a choice.”
Joey told me that if I had decided to opt out of that job workshop, he never would’ve passed my resume to Chick Fil A. After I learned about the culture of the company; ‘human connections to glorify God through serving chicken sandwiches’? It’s hard to explain, but I knew it was right. I was certain.
Both before and after getting hired at Chick-fil-A, as a student here [at the Village of Hope], I struggled. I succeeded, but I also failed. And in ways, I carried both of those things into my life after graduating.
Currently, everything about the circumstances in my life seem incredibly uncertain. I am still struggling to get a less temporary living situation for my family. I am not I where I was personally expecting myself to be in my role at work at the moment. And then I get a message asking me to speak here tonight, about my success.
The teachers that God has placed in my life, have helped me learn the lessons that I needed to learn to keep taking each step forward. From elementary school, to the Village of Hope, to Chick-fil-A, there have been many teachers. Even my own kids taught me the value of childlike logic. Like simply asking “why?” When I struggled with how to express how I am facing such struggles, yet I still feel successful.
One of my sons asked “What is success?” So I asked myself, “what is success?” But before that, I reached out to my kids’ amazing principal and he actually helped me get responses from many other children. It was overwhelming.
One girl in fifth grade wrote, “I think success means that you come to school ready to learn. Also that you listen to the teacher. That’s all I have.”
Every step is a success… If we are moving forward. The teachers that we learn from help us take those steps and school gives us a place and resources to be educated. The lessons that the students learn [at the Rescue Mission], the lessons that I learned here and all the teachers who taught them to me, wouldn’t be possible if someone hadn’t helped provide a way to make that happen. People who invest themselves in whatever capacity God has blessed them with and called them to.  Whether it’s paying for the air conditioning that we run all summer without having to stress about being able to afford it, or serving breakfast and remembering that we like the crispy pieces of bacon, or the chefs who volunteer their time and pour their creative ideas and skills into the students in the kitchen to make the meals that we eat. Truett Cathy the founder of Chick-fil-A, said, “food is essential to life, therefore make it good.”
This journey taught me that if we come here and we are ready to learn, and we do listen to the teacher, that’s all we need.
Kids are smart. At the end of our orientation video[ at Chick-fil-A], it says, “every life has a story… if we bother to read it”
My boss has definitely read a decent amount of my story. I share with him the way I learn things from kids and joke how I like to pretend I’m a princess in a fairytale story.
Every life does have a story… And you’ll never know if you don’t bother to read it, but if you want to make a difference, dare to be part of that story. Even if that story may seem like a fairytale. Because the truth is, I am a princess. I’m a daughter of the king.
Psalm 119:105.. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”
A flame only light enough to show you the steps you can take next… Not the whole path.
To be honest right now, it feels more like a candle to my crawl.
But thank you to the teachers in my life, my teachers growing up, my boss, the donors, the volunteers, the case managers and staff here at the Village of Hope, I know how to be a student, I know how to learn, and I know how to keep taking steps forward.
Amanda at work