My name is Cassey, and I came to be a part of the women's program at Heartisans via a referral from my Buckner life coach, Courtney. I first sought help from Buckner when I reached a crossroad in my life. I am currently 35, and a single mother to 3 children ages 4, 6, and 16. I was a career nurse, a registered nurse with my bachelor’s degree (BSN), for 10 years. I worked one year in the hospital, some home health, but mostly worked as a charge nurse at nursing homes or as a hospice nurse. Hospice was really where I found my niche, and it was the most rewarding thing I have experienced in my life. I am so glad I got to be a part of all the peoples’ lives I got to touch. I had some faith growing up, but always felt like, “How can anyone be sure of a God or an afterlife?” After being a part of so many peoples’ transitions, collectively what I have witnessed from an array of people from different faiths, cultures, and belief systems, I no longer have doubts about God. I feel like I’ve stood right in front of the door that leads to the next life, and although I’ve not walked through the threshold myself, I see the evidence there is something on the other side. In 2017, already overwhelmed as a single mother, disheartened with nursing already for other reasons, suffering from depression, and in constant pain for nearly 10 years due to advanced disc degeneration and arthritis of the lumbar spine, I always felt like I was barely keeping the seams of our lives together from day to day or minute to minute. I decided to be grateful for the years I already had taking care of others and surrender my license. I planned to take some time off to re-group, get my back fusion that had been delayed, and then figure out what I want to “do next.” That is when I found Buckner, and I knew that I was facing a crossroad. I could either accept this as my life and continue to live dependent on welfare as a person who has given up, or I could take this as a learning tool and turning point, and as a chance to find exactly what I’m supposed to do in this life to continue to not only take care of my family, but serve God in whatever path he may place before me. As I worked with Courtney, she informed me of the mission of the Heartisans program, and both of us felt like it would be the perfect place for me to learn and grow into the next stage of my life. I was seeking accountability and a little bit of guidance. When you do one thing for so long, it can be hard to take a step back and identify how you may be able to use the skills you’ve acquired, but applying them in another career path.
Heartisans has greatly impacted my life in multiple ways. Although I am not as crystal clear about an exact profession to be working toward as I had hoped to be upon completion of the program, I feel like I have an entirely different outlook than I did before. I believe I can organize and prioritize more clearly, whereas before I would feel overwhelming anxiety as soon as I thought of something I needed to do, and shove it in the back of my brain to keep it there, which just made me more frustrated and overwhelmed. Studying about the life and legacy of David despite all of his gross shortcomings and misjudgments especially helped to put things into perspective and clear those anxieties. Although I may never be in the perfect career or have a great paying job, I have a positive outlook, I feel at peace, and am certain that if I try and focus on what is most important, everything will be okay. I also plan to start attending Mass every week and focus on faith formation for my children.
When I think of Heartisans, many things come to mind. The first thing I think of is love of God, and the second is love for women as a sisterhood, as well as love for the community. I think of all the people who pool all their resources together in self-sacrifice, to change women’s lives. From the owner who dared to have a dream and a vision that was beyond herself, to the employees who pour their hearts into their jobs, to the volunteers who offer their many talents as services to be utilized in order to help create goods for the store, and the other volunteers that may not have a gift of creation but still volunteer time and a helping hand, they are all a part of helping every single woman improve her situation. I also think of all the donors whom we have never met, that have donated money, goods, products, and resources to have made this dream a reality. I am so very thankful to all those that keep the machine that is Heartisans running.
What I love most about Heartisans is the sense of togetherness and family. The feeling of a strong, cohesive community is very palpable during your time here, and if you have a problem that may have been impossible to fix for a long while, Amy will find someone in the Heartisans community who can help you begin to solve it. Although that is great, the best take-away from Heartisans I will have are the sisters I gained during my time in the program. From the comic who acts sillier than even me, to the quiet girl easy to misunderstand, or the older woman who I have come to find has so many parallels to my own neurotic behavior that it makes me smile in silence, and all the other woman I have come to know, I am blessed to have gotten to know and spend time with them all. We are a group of women that did not choose to be grouped together, but because of our similar circumstances, we have ended up in the same place at the same time, and learned to find humor and love in all of our different personalities, compassion in the pain we have faced, and although we are many stories, we are one story. We are different women, but every woman. I have certain love for them like new sisters. Although not perfect, we all have a strength that used to be locked away, but now are learning to unleash upon the world. A strength made possible only through love, God, community, and above all… by grace.