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Here at Free 2 Fly, we are blessed to have women come into our program ready for major life change. One woman who has experienced this is Jessica Mizell, and this is her story.
Jessica explains her life as being challenging from the beginning. She moved a lot as a kid which resulted in her never feeling at home anywhere. Then after her parents divorce she started to get involved with drugs and alcohol. Her journey with substance abuse started off slow, but continually progressed to the point where the only thing she cared about was getting her next fix. During that time she became pregnant with her daughter and thankfully was able to stay clean during her pregnancy. However, shortly after her daughter was born, her addiction became prevalent in her life again. Jessica knew there was a threat that she could lose her daughter, and that was the wake up call she needed to decide she didn’t want to continue living her life this way. She asked her mom and sister for help, and while attending an Anchor Point Foundation meeting she met the founder of Women at the Well, a faith based organization whose mission is to help women break free from life controlling problems.
In July of 2016, Jessica began her journey at Women at the Well. She described her time in their program as challenging because she had to leave her daughter for a period of time in order to do what was best for both of them. She also said
“It was an experience that was life changing for me. I developed a relationship with the Lord that I never had before. My relationship with my family and my daughter were completely restored.”
Almost a year later in May of 2017, Jessica was given an application to work at Project: Free 2 Fly, and that is where the next part of her journey began. Women at the Well helped get Jessica to the place where she was able to take on new challenges, and next on the list was the eighteen month program at Free 2 Fly.
“At first I was a little nervous to sew and make products. I doubted myself a lot and really had no self-confidence that I could do it,” Jessica explained. “Over time my doubt started to fade away, and I realized that I could do it. I had to persevere and believe in myself.”
Like all women coming into the program, Jessica started with the basics of sewing small products like key fobs, makeup bags, and wallets. She advanced quickly and soon had mastered making every product in the storefront. Along with learning the new skill of sewing, she was also taking several different enrichment courses. Through our program she took classes on cooking, parenting, and learned other skills to cultivate a better life for herself and her family. While doing these things she was also able to obtain her own apartment and provide further stability for herself and her daughter.
Jessica’s next challenge was to decide what she wanted to pursue outside of working at Free 2 Fly. Going back to college was something that had always been at the back of her mind, so with some encouragement she made the decision to go to Cleveland State to pursue a career in social work. While balancing being a mom, working at Free 2 Fly, and going to school Jessica was learning that she was capable of doing much more than she ever thought she could. She said
“The biggest lesson I have learned at Free 2 Fly is that I am able to do anything I set my mind to. I have to be patient and willing to make changes that are necessary for my future as well as my daughters.”
Jessica graduated from Free 2 Fly’s program in November of 2019, and was offered to stay on as an intern. Now she has leadership opportunities and can help new women that come into the program. She gets to help teach women how to make products and do things that at one point she was not confident to do. Jessica said,
“What has benefited me the most about being a part of Free 2 Fly is that I know I have women who will always be there for me. I have learned how to be confident in myself and how to be a leader in the workspace and in everyday life.”
Seeing women’s lives be transformed is something that we consider one of our biggest blessings, and we are so proud of the huge goals Jessica has accomplished. We couldn’t do the work we do without the help of our partner organizations. If you or your organization would like to partner with us to help support, nurture and empower women in our community, please read more on our community partnership page.