Great Expectations: Giving Birth to RE + NEW + ALL’s Next Chapter
In early 2020, Rachel was beginning a new life. Years of addiction and harmful relationships where she was exploited were behind her. Having completed a 2-year recovery program, she was ready for a fresh start.
Then the pandemic hit.
Leaving the nest of protection and support rehab provides and navigating the world as a newly sober person is hard enough under normal circumstances. As the world shut down around her, Rachel struggled with the crisis and the confinement, and she relapsed.
But as Rachel fell into her old patterns, a new safety net appeared. Rachel met the RE + NEW + ALL team when she was first in recovery in 2019 and admired the company’s mission. We saw her brilliant potential too, and upon learning of her relapse we reached out to offer encouragement and mentorship.
A light of hope and possibility beckoned, but Rachel resisted. In denial over her addiction’s impact on her life and unable to hold a job, she continued her downward spiral until the fall when she discovered she was pregnant.
Rachel had a decision to make. Little did she know how much her choice would not only change her life, but influence RE + NEW + ALL’s own rebirth.
A Time of Transition
Founder Lee Howard’s vision for RE + NEW + ALL has always been big. She knew the potential this budding social enterprise held for women who needed help and healing. But stepping fully into this vision proved difficult as 2020 brought a fair share of challenges.
In January, our original studio was hit by a tornado. Thankfully, with incredible support from the local community, the team was back at work in a brand new studio within a few months.
March brought COVID-19, forcing our staff into lockdown at the A Way Out Ministries recovery program. Lee managed candle orders mostly on her own until the initial restrictions were lifted and the women could return to work.
As the year progressed, RE + NEW + ALL’s original candlemakers either graduated from A Way Out’s recovery program or moved on to new chapters in their lives.
New trainees arrived in 2021, but as A Way Out continued to adapt to the challenges 2020 brought to their organizaiton they saw an oppurtunity to press pause on their residential program to update their services and better meet the needs of the women they serve.
This meant we were suddenly without a workforce save for Rachel, who had chosen to recommit to her own healing journey. Instead of seeing this change as a roadblock, we knew it was an opportunity to take RE + NEW + ALL’s evolution to the next level.
Baby on Board!
During the dark days of Rachel’s relapse, we made sure to check in and stay in touch. And when Rachel became pregnant, she knew she could lean on us for support.
Initially, Rachel was reluctant to continue the pregnancy until one night she felt God say, “Fight for her.” In that moment, she decided to step onto the path of motherhood. And she realized that would mean fighting for herself too.
Because of RE + NEW + ALL’s connections with nonprofits around Memphis, we were able to help Rachel secure insurance, doctor appointments, and acceptance into a new detox program. And once she regained her sobriety, Rachel also came on board to work with us.
Word spread and assistance poured in. With Rachel due in July, one family put out the call on Facebook and delivered two truckloads of baby items. Others are now planning a baby blessing shower (stay tuned for more details).
We’ve been honored to walk alongside Rachel the whole way. And as Rachel prepares to become a mother, she’s helping us bring a bigger vision of RE + NEW + ALL to life as well.
A Renewed Purpose for RE + NEW + ALL
Lee has long wanted to create a more extensive, long-term work recovery program for the survivors she works with. Our goal is to offer in-depth classroom training in life skills and character and career development in addition to the hands-on work experience RE+NEW+ALL currently offers. Part of our new program would also include indivdualized career counseling and case management services for the women as they transition into full-time jobs.
Through Rachel, we’ve also come to recognize we need to expand RE + NEW + ALL’s platform and open it up to women experiencing violence, addiction, and other social and economic disadvantages. That’s because any woman struggling in these areas is vulnerable to being trafficked, just like Rachel was.
While RE + NEW + ALL will continue to emphasize the trauma of trafficking, our hope is to not only renew those who have been victimized but reach at-risk women and prevent them from becoming victims.
We’re still in the cocoon stage of this big, bold, beautiful change, but we know we’re on the right track because the right people keep showing up to help. One wonderful volunteer is a retired corporate trainer working with us on mapping out the specifics of this new program.
RE + NEW + ALL’s Light Grows Brighter
And, of course, we continue to rely on you in the RE + NEW + ALL community. Your support through the purchase of our candles continues to impact women’s lives and allows them to recover, rebuild, and be restored. But did you know your gift goes even further than that?
Your investment in the women of RE + NEW + ALL is also an investment in their children. So many are single moms or hope to reconnect with children they’re estranged from. Because of you, these women have a chance to show up differently for themselves, which means they can show up differently as a parent. You’re contributing to a better future for all of them.
As a soon-to-be mom, Rachel is a powerful example of one woman your kindness and generosity are helping to heal. By sharing some of her story with you, we hope you’ll be as excited as we are about the ways RE + NEW + ALL’s mission is expanding and the lives it can change.
And if you are interested in volunteering with us, let us know! As we grow and expand our services to women we will have more oppurtunities for those who are interested in working alongside us.
RE + NEW + ALL’s motto remains: Our candles are made to make a difference. And you are the difference makers giving women the chance to shine their brightest!