“In my addiction, I forgot how to live. Fashion & Compassion has helped me remember how to live…how to interact with other people…to fulfill a commitment…to be kind to other people.”
~ Wendy, 2020 Artisan
Often times Wendy and I can’t get through a conversation without a box of Kleenex…the stories shared are powerful and we’re so grateful to have her in our home.
One of our beloved artisans, Wendy shares her struggles with addiction and mental illness. She has gone through most of her life feeling that no one cared, insecure and alone.
Wendy felt removed from the world and didn’t think she was good enough to be involved… so when she first came to Fashion & Compassion, she felt that our program might be out of her element. The beauty of the space and the people felt overwhelming. Wendy’s addiction has been a “huge isolator” in her life which lead to a fear of failure and truly living.
Coming to Fashion & Compassion has really changed that perspective for Wendy as she learns the value of having a healthy and supportive community. “If I miss a day, people care. They want me to succeed. Once everyone puts all their baggage out there, you realize that your baggage isn’t all that bad. Seeing the courage of all these other women inspires me.”
Wendy is gaining confidence as she progresses through the mentoring and goal setting in our program. ‘The possibility of graduating, of completing something, has been a big confidence-builder for me. I’ve always had this preconceived notion of the way the world works, of what others think I should be in life, and that’s just not the way it is at F&C. I can come here as I am. I can talk to anyone here and be accepted.”
At Fashion & Compassion, Wendy feels welcomed and loved. Wendy tells me, “on the first day, I realized that you are doing this all for ME! There’s something that happens here….sharing your walk with other women and being met with no judgment. I can say what I want to say, and you love me anyway.”
Before coming to Fashion & Compassion, Wendy hadn’t been to church in a long time. Her faith had been challenged. Wendy’s grandfather was schizophrenic and committed suicide when Wendy was just a child. She was told that he would go to hell, a thought which terrified her, ultimately driving her away from the church and furthering her resentment towards Christianity. Today, Wendy is growing in her faith and says that the Bible Study aspect of the program is one of her favorite parts. “It’s a safe place where I can ask questions and has helped me come back to the faith. That’s a big part of what I’m learning to do here.”
Wendy has dreams. Her top priority is to be a present and loving mom to her 6-year old daughter, Marlee. Wendy has learned about giving back and wants to teach Marlee to put others first, too. Wendy also dreams of helping others through art therapy, an influence from her time in our program. “I love to make the jewelry, but it’s not even about that. It’s so much more…just SO much more.” When vulnerable women come around our table together, healing happens. We cannot wait to see Wendy achieve her dreams!
Fashion & Compassion is grateful for our partners, Dove’s Nest and the Mecklenburg County ABC Board. Dove’s Nest is Charlotte Rescue Mission’s women’s recovery program, housing women and their children in a free 120-day program. Many of our artisans are referred to us through Dove’s Nest, including Wendy.
Fashion & Compassion is a grateful recipient of the Mecklenburg County ABC Board’s Community Health & Wellness grant, which focuses on education, prevention, treatment and/or research of alcohol and/or substance abuse. We are able to change the trajectory for vulnerable women like Wendy and so many others thanks to the generosity of the Mecklenburg County ABC Board.