From homelessness to happiness
By Sue Baldani
Women experiencing domestic violence often have to flee with very little money and few belongings. They often do so after years of abuse and risk everything for a chance for a better and safer life.
Julie (a pseudonym) knows this well. Her husband beat her and belittled her for several years, and coming from an abusive childhood, she felt like she didn’t deserve any better. “I didn’t know how precious I was,” she says. “It was ingrained in me that people can do whatever they want to you.”
After a particularly vicious beating last year, Julie knew she had to leave – this time for good. She left multiple times before, but her husband always managed to find her. “I just packed a bag. I left my cell phone, my credit cards. I had less than $300,” she says.
Julie had a long journey ahead of her, and although he found her once, she managed to get away again. “I drove for hours; I didn’t know what to do or where to go.”
It was during this drive that she heard a woman call into a radio show about her abusive husband. The show’s host, who is from Tennessee, told the woman she needed to get away from him and that she mattered.
“That’s how I chose Tennessee,” says Julie. “I slept in my car for about two weeks and then I walked into the local police department. They got me into a shelter.”
It was this shelter that introduced her to a path to success through Resera, a jewelry company based in Nashville. “I founded Resera, along with Alexis Cook, in 2017,” says Corbin Hooker. “I had this growing sensation that I needed to try to do something to help the homeless, and from day one, our heart has always been about this mission. The jewelry has been a means to work with women experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence.”
By partnering with other organizations such as Community Care Fellowship, the YWCA and Renewal House, not only are these women given jobs, but they also learn many skills, such as wax injecting, molding, chaining and distribution. Resera also partners with financial literacy coaches and career counselors who come onsite to help the women navigate these issues.
“Some women come in with a really clear idea of what their dream career is, and they can use this job as a stepping stone to stabilize, earn some money, develop some skills, and then go get that dream job,” says Corbin. “For others, they may come here and decide that this is their dream.”
“My case manager at my first shelter told me she thought I would be a really good fit for Resera,” says Julie. “I had no jewelry-making skills whatsoever, and when you interview with Corbin, he totally understands that.”
She was also able to get into another shelter, which offered her a lot more support than the first, including therapy. On January 1st, she went from being a maker (which is what they call the women at Resera) to the director of events. “I handle all of our events and do all of our outside sales because that’s my passion.” And thanks to her job at Resera, she moved into her own apartment on January 7th.
“I wake up and I fall asleep in my blessing every day,” says Julie. “It’s where I feel safe.”
She wants other women in her situation to know there is hope. “It’s not going to be easy to leave and you’re going to be so scared,” she says. “But I believe you can do it – you’re worth it! You’re going to start healing and you’re going to start dreaming. And those dreams are going to come true – like mine.”
Julie is a rockstar, says Corbin, and his dream is to grow Resera in order to support more women like her (he has helped over 20 women so far). He also wants to partner with other organizations to incorporate similar models. “It’s important to separate the trauma the women have been through and the person themselves,” he says. “You also have to recognize the legitimate barriers they face and come alongside them.”
Each piece of Resera’s high-quality and beautiful jewelry comes with a story of the person who made it. Just wearing it is impactful.
To support its mission, go to www.Resera.com/.
Written for Belle Meade Lifestyle magazine in Tennessee.