Moving from Fear to ConfidenceSelf, Identity
Contributed by: Chalmers Center
Written by Anne Miller
Jasmine Brown has the contagious kind of smile that lights up a room. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she loves to learn and she loves to work hard. But at the end of 2018, she found herself stuck without a job, lacking direction, and paralyzed by fear.
Rewind two years. In 2016, Jasmine got a call from her older sister in Kentucky. Her sister had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and needed help. Jasmine decided to drop everything in Birmingham—her community and her budding career in the medical field—to move two states away and become her sister’s full-time caretaker.
Jasmine took care of her sister in Kentucky for the next two years until she passed away in October of 2018. Her father had died only a few months before. Jasmine had also lost her mother only a few years prior.
When Jasmine returned to Birmingham, she had no job, a two-year gap on her resume, and mounting financial pressure.
“I was definitely depressed,” she says. “I was lonely. I was majorly stressed and worried.”
Jasmine wanted to move ahead, find work, and be able to take care of herself, but she wasn’t sure where to begin.
At the end of 2018, Jasmine started attending Urban Hope Community Church in Fairfield, Alabama. The church members welcomed her, and Jasmine quickly felt supported and surrounded by this new, loving community. She befriended Dion Watts, a staff member at Urban Hope and the Director of Recruitment at Clerestory, Inc., a Birmingham nonprofit.
Clerestory offers a path for low-income people from dependence on relief assistance to holistic restoration through various economic initiatives. This path begins with Work Life, the Chalmers Center’s biblically-integrated, job preparedness curriculum designed specifically for people from backgrounds of generational poverty. Clerestory partners closely with local churches such as Urban Hope and Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church to help them love their communities through programs like Work Life and Faith & Finances.
Dion encouraged Jasmine to join the Work Life job preparedness class he facilitated at Oak Mountain. Throughout the 16-week class, Jasmine was paired with a team of allies who encouraged her and helped her learn and grow.
One of Jasmine’s mentors, Brooke, connected with her in a special way. Brooke’s father had passed away in 2007, so she understood the type of grief Jasmine was experiencing. Jasmine felt comfortable enough to open up about her emotional struggles and ask questions about Work Life and the grieving process. Both women benefited from sharing the weight of each other’s burdens in this way and have maintained a close friendship since the class ended.
While participating in Work Life, Jasmine built new relationships and learned new skills to help her find a job. She also gained a new way of thinking about the structure of her life.
With the Lord supporting her in all aspects, Jasmine has been learning about herself. She has discovered her strengths and weaknesses, how to connect with new people confidently, and new skills to help her relaunch her career.
Jasmine has always worked hard, but she felt like she was held back because she struggled during job interviews. She said that she is naturally shy and struggles with a lack of confidence. During interviews, she tended to clam up and stumble over her words. Through Work Life, though, Jasmine learned and practiced skills from both the class and her mentors that equipped her to interview confidently and present herself accurately.
Just a few months after her graduation from Work Life, Jasmine has a new job at a local Birmingham restaurant. She impressed her employers in her interview instead of becoming frozen by fear.
“When I got the job, I felt ecstatic because I felt confident and ready for it,” Jasmine says. “The job is fun and I’m learning a lot of skills. It gives me the platform to connect with people and boost my confidence even more.”
God is restoring Jasmine—and many other people—through local churches and nonprofit organizations working together for the Kingdom. Today, Jasmine is back on her feet. She has a new community around her and a new career ahead of her. She is excited to see what the future brings, even though she doesn’t know what it holds. She knows God will be using her work to bless others and to keep bringing smiles to their faces through her joy.