Would you have the courage to jump out of a moving car, in order to save your life? Or do you know someone, with that kind of courage?
Turns out I do know someone with that kind of courage; I just didn’t know it, until a couple of days ago.
This past Tuesday, several of us from Redeemer went to Turnaround Tuesday, a second chance jobs movement of BUILD (Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development). To date, since its inception 4 years ago, Turnaround Tuesday has helped 535 individuals secure living wage employment with its various partners across the city, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and University of Maryland Medical System. (To view PBSNewsHour clip of Turnaround Tuesday, click here: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/in-baltimore-more-employers-hiring-formerly-incarcerated-people)
Folks who come to Turnaround Tuesday (TaT) are encouraged and trained to tell their whole story, not just the parts they think potential employers would want to hear. “Fill in the holes [in your employment history] yourself. Tell your story,” Co-Director Terrell Williams coaches, “otherwise, other people will fill in the holes for themselves.” TaT uses role playing and modeling to teach this and other skills and life lessons, to empower their clients.
And so it was this past Tuesday that, as part of a role play, a TaT staff member told some of her own story. She began by describing the beauty of Hawaii, where she used to live: the sun, the ocean, the palm trees. But the idyllic scene she painted turned dark as she went on to describe how her husband of over a decade became a monster of “roid rage” from anabolic steroid abuse.
One day, he surprised her with a gun, taking her hostage in his car and instructing her to phone their 3 daughters to tell them goodbye. Understanding that if she stayed in the car with her husband, she was going to be killed, she jumped out of the moving car, only to be pursued and caught by him, on foot.
As he held her arms and body hostage-like, and an off-duty police officer on the beach shouted from a distance to try to intervene, she freed herself from her husband’s grip by slipping out of her T-shirt and running for help, which she found and gladly received. She separated from her husband and went on from that dark day to raising her daughters as a single mother, finishing her education, and securing solid employment. As a staff member TaT, she now helps others to do the same.
“What did we learn about Brie from her story?” another TaT staff member asked.
“She is courageous,” one client offered.
“She is strong,” another said.
“She is dedicated,” a third observed.
We all agreed that any potential employer, listening to her story, would remember her and want her on his/her team.
So what about you? Are their parts of your own life story, that you are ashamed of? That you’d rather hide and not share? Could it be that, by bringing them to light in front of another, you might find liberation, and not only for yourself?