Hope dealers celebrate third 2024 graduation

Published 7:40 pm Friday, June 28, 2024

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Hope Inspired Ministries Executive Director (HIM), John Bowman, refers to the organization’s staff members as “hope dealers.” The label aptly describes the role career coaches and Lowndes County site director Jessica Fails play in helping men and women transform their lives from hopeless to hope filled.

“We have students that are really shy and standoffish, and who are not people oriented,” Fails said. “And, by the time they graduate, they’re smiling, and they’re talking more. They’re being more interactive with people.They come out of their shells, and they help their classmates.

“I’ve seen some have certain background issues where they have misdemeanors or court fines and things like that. We help them set a goal to save their money to pay their court fines so they can find a better job.”

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The ministry held a commencement ceremony on June 20 at Hayneville Christian Church for five men and women who reached the goal of graduating from the program. Graduates Crystal Lewis, Tamara Mitchell, Lue Etta Shannon, Quintavious Greshem and Robbie Orr walked down the aisle to receive their diploma and celebrate all they had accomplished and all they hope to do in the future laid out before them.

The program helps participants overcome challenges like homelessness and the need for medical care. Fails and the staff of career coaches — Mary Malone-Williams, Demetrist Porter, Mary Beth Mote and Dakus Sankey, Jr. — assist participants with gaining education, personal documents and the skills needed to achieve their goals.

“One of our students always wanted to get a GED,” Fails said. “Now they are in the local GED program, working on their GED Monday through Wednesday. Just to see them start to reach and accomplish some of the goals they have for themselves, goals they didn’t think were possible but now they’re exceeding what they have put in motion, I just love to see that.”

According to Fails, each HIM class stands out in their own way. Current graduates showed genuine care for each other and shared a common goal of giving back to their community.

“I like the way that they care for each other,” Fails said. “Almost all of them had a common interest; they all wanted to become CNAs (certified nursing assistants) and work with the elderly. I love it. They want to pour back into their communities by working in a nursing home or hospital so they can care for the elderly.”

During the ceremony, graduates spoke about what they accomplished through the program and what they hoped to do after graduation. Williams has worked with participants in more than 15 HIM classes during her tenure with the ministry and said something one of the graduates expressed was especially meaningful to her.

“She was saying how [graduation] is a new chapter in her life and she is really looking forward to beginning that new chapter,” Williams said. “She realized she needed [transformation] and HIM has brought her a long way. It brought her out of her shell and it has given her the ability to do better for herself and for her child.”

In May, the ministry held a graduation for 22 high school students, 11 from Central High School in Hayneville and 11 from The Calhoun School. The class was the largest group of high school students to graduate from the program.

To learn more, follow Hope Inspired Ministries on social media or visit www.hopeinspiredministries.org.