This month, One Hope United has been celebrating Women’s History Month. Throughout the month of Month, we have been sharing OHU staff’s amazing stories about their favorite women in history who have made an significant impact in their lives.
Today, we are showcasing Shirlene “Candy” Tomes and her appreciation for the women at One Hope United. Tomes is a Milieu Counselor in our Centralia Residential and Group Home Campus.
“My journey started in January, when I was 22 years old at One Hope United. I was a single mother to a 1-year old little boy, and I had no real clue what life was about. I came from a broken home and really did not have guidance. I was not quite sure what I would be exactly doing and what One Hope was about.
My first year was very challenging and intense; I never worked with youth and especially youth who have been impacted by trauma. I remember making late night phone calls to my leaders/supervisor in tears wanting to quit, after being spit in the face, hit, and bit. By the end of our phone calls I remembered gaining some peace and understanding to what the youth was feeling and needing. I quickly learned not to take things personally. I even quit for a brief period and came back, trying to search for something that I felt was missing. Then God led me back to One Hope United. I began to find myself as the years went on; I was becoming a strong woman myself.
The leadership of woman [at One Hope United] believed in my talents and strengths, even the ones I did not know I even had. They did not judge or criticize me, and they built me up and helped me improve myself.
I remember feeling so empowered at many points when working with very strong and fierce women. Even walking amongst these women to and from a serious crisis. The team work they displayed, the safety they provided, the love they shared; to some of the most ‘unlovable children’. Moments like these, I knew this is where I belonged. I can honestly say they were mother figures to me as well as my own mother.
My mother and I had quite the journey in growing up. When I began my journey at One Hope, my mother and I began to develop a truly healthy mother/daughter relationship. I became a better mother to my own child. As I watched many powerful women work with the toughest youth, I remember feeling ‘I want to impact young women one day, the way these women are impacting me.’ I never felt so safe, loved, respected, and so much more in my time throughout out One Hope United, this even impacted my personal life. Because of the empowering women that God placed in my life I am the woman I am today, because of them. I’m very thankful and humble to be raised by such strong women.
Young women (staff, youth, strangers, family, and friends) are able to come to me and thank me for empowering them, the way I thanked the women who have helped me. Impacting young women grow in their journies in life is an amazing feeling. I have my mother to thank; as well as [wonderful women at OHU] in my 10+ journey at OHU. Because of these women, I am the woman I am today and for that I thankful!
“I am a strong woman because strong WOMEN raised me.”
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