“Every Product has a Story, Every Story is a Woman's.”

on March 25, 2021

Every woman has her own story and path to sustainability. For Julia, a recent graduate of our program, her real journey is just beginning.

Julia has struggled with addiction on and off for over 30 years. After moving back to Athens to help care for her parents, Julia relapsed and her addiction quickly took over her life once again. Knowing her mom was struggling, Julia’s daughter called and asked if she would reach out to Women of Hope – a program that offers a safe place for women to seek regeneration and rebuild their lives.

“It was the first time ever that I had nobody – I didn’t have my dad or a friend to pick me up. There’s something about when someone does it for you, that doesn’t always stick.,” Julia said. “But I had lost everything and I was all alone, and I picked myself up, for myself.”

Julia moved into the Hope House in December of 2017 and began participating in the Women of Hope program.

After spending about a year at the Hope House, Julia was looking for a sign for what was next. While attending church with her daughter and aunt she noticed they both were wearing some fun earrings. Her daughter informed her they were from a local non-profit, Project Free 2 Fly, and encouraged her to call to see if there was space in their work program. After talking to our founder and CEO, Hailey Johnston, and filling out the application, Julia was accepted into the program and started two weeks later.

“I was not a sewer! I had no prior experience, but knew I wanted to give it a try.”

Over the next 2.5 years, Julia shocked herself and learned to sew! It wasn’t always easy, but slowly and surely, she mastered a variety of products in the Free 2 Fly line.

“I learned I am able to do whatever I set my mind to - I just had to press on and never give up and I did it!”

Besides tackling goals in the workspace, Julia conquered some significant goals personally as well. She regained her driver’s license, purchased her own car, and restored broken relationships with her family and friends. Even through these better days, Julia suffered some extreme losses during this time, such as the passing of her mom. Even through those dark days, Julia remained focused on her recovery and her relationship with the Lord.

“Remember that you were created to serve God’s purpose. You are valuable. Through Him you will become stronger, focused, and confident,” said Julia. “Ultimately, it’s not the falling down that’s the hardest, it’s the getting up.”

Julia graduated from Free 2 Fly this past November and is now looking forward to the future. She’s currently encouraging and inspiring the women at the Hope House but is looking to get her own place soon. Now, with a strong foundation of skills, life lessons, and support from family and friends, Julia is looking forward to what the future holds as she embarks on her next chapter. She is mostly looking forward to spending quality time with her children and grandchildren and creating many more happy memories.  

“I guess one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to be more self-aware and through that I got back my zest for life.”

Julia is known for her upbeat personality and funny catch phrases. One of her favorites is calling everyone “pickle.” For her, it’s a term of endearment, said to those she truly cares about. We often name our products after women we know and love and when we decided to create a new t-shirt inspired by Julia, we knew we had to use her signature line.  

“Right before my mom passed away and she looked at me and said “Oh my pickle, I’m so proud of you – and that meant the world to me.”

To shop our limited edition ‘Hey Pickle’ shirt, click HERE.

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