Some Reflections on the Women Blessing Women Program – “Where Are They Now?”

By Glenda Gamble Brown
Special to The Truth

Women Blessing Women (WBW) was a non-profit organization organized in 1998 by the Catholic Diocese of Toledo. The program served women with low incomes in Lucas County and who needed to obtain their GEDs, Job Readiness Skills and Empowerment Skills to better their lives.  Due to lack of funding the board voted to close the doors in May of 2012.

Many volunteers, donors such as and community partners planted seeds of good faith for many women who came through the doors. For they knew from Jeremiah 29:11 scripture which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you an expected end. Special thanks to Toledo Rotary Club and UPS!

Many women benefited from the program receiving their GED, Employment and Life Empowerment. From those seeds of Faith, donor dollars and thousands of hours of volunteer, time many women are blooming in life and I would like to share some of their success stories with you. I am so proud of these women!

Thank you to Bishop Duane C. Tisdale and Friendship Baptist Church for embracing the vision to help women and men achieve their GED. Thank you to the many WBW volunteers who continued after the doors were closed. With your sacrifice many of these ladies were able to achieve their GED, continue their education and work in their desired field. “It is amazing that many of these women work in the medical field where they are caring for others.”

Sue Nowak and Kay Shrewsbery, former WBW volunteers continue to volunteer at Friendship Baptist Church with the GED Program. So if you are interested in achieving your GED contact Friendship at 419—534-5437. Leave a message and someone will contact you.
If you have received your GED from WBW or Friendship New Vision GED classes we would love to hear your success story!

Reconnect with us for reunion activities and empowerment. Contact us on Facebook “Empowered Women” (Friends of WBW & SOS). You may also contact Glenda Gamble Brown

Tracey Graves Steele attended Women Blessing Women on Page Street. After participating in the Empowerment Workshops and GED Classes, with determination Tracey received her GED in December 2011.

Tracey used to say in our empowerment classes that she couldn’t smile and didn’t like to look in the mirror at herself. Tracey learned how to smile and with empowerment and confidence has accomplished many of her goals. She obtained her driver’s license and start driving.

Tracey became employed at Arista Home Healthcare. She is a Home Health Aide. To my surprise Tracey ended up taking care of my mother and this was a blessing for me for she is such a caring person. Tracey has not stopped smiling!

April Halterman, a single parent, attended Women Blessing Women on Page Street and received her GED in November of 2010. April participated in the program and continues to raise her children.

Her son has graduated from high school and her daughter will be graduating soon.

With confidence, she set goals and have achieved them for herself and her family. April is current working and has within the year obtained her driver’s license and purchased a new car. April keeps in touch with former WBW women and also attends the WBW Reunion gatherings.

Keonna Hutcherson, a single parent, was working part-time while attending Women Blessing Women for the GED program. After WBW closed Keonna was determined and pursued taking the GED on her own and passed in 2013.

Keonna is seen in her photo here at her daughter’s graduation. Both mother and daughter were pursuing their careers in Nursing. Keonna attended Stautzenberger College, where she graduated with a certification for a Practical Nurse in December 2019..

2020 Update:
On April 10, 2020, Keonna took her State of Ohio Board of Nursing and passed the first time! She is now a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and currently employed at Park Terrace Nursing.

Nichelle Hutchen known as Nickie became a young mother twice at a very early age and says of those difficulties: “While in high school after having my second child and him becoming very ill I ended up missing quite a bit of school. I ended up dropping out with only a half of year from graduation. After the death of my son of my son, I went to achieve my GED. After completing the classes I acquired my STNA certificate, and years of working in the nursing field. I decided to attend Davis College for a year and a half only to then find out that the GED was not real.

“I was very hurt and confused. I thought all of my time and effort was lost. I didn’t do anything for years then I thought about getting my GED again. I saw GED classes being offered in a community newspaper for WBW. I hesitated at first but called and spoke with Annette Reed. She answered my questions and reassured me that WBW was a good program and legit.

“I started classes in 2009 and received my GED in 2011. After I received my GED I went back to WBW and volunteered and tried to help empower current women striving to achieve their GED. I returned back to Davis College to continue my education and graduated May 9, 2014. I was unable to walk for graduation due to the death of my husband Minister Hutchen. I was truly blessed by Women Blessing Women staff and classes.

“I currently am employed at Mercy St. Vincent hospital as a medical technician. I am also a member of Eastern Star Missionary Baptist Church. Ms .Glenda also known as ” Ms. G” She has blessed and helped a lot of broken women”

Terryann Simpson said: I attended WBW while I was working part-time at McDonald’s restaurant. I was a single parent but my goals were high. After receiving my GED I began volunteering at Sunset Nursing Home and later was employed. I attended Chamberlain University where I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. I graduated Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing in July 2010. I just accepted a new job as a Clinical Manager.

I will be transitioning from my Nursing Instructor position in the next week. I have a Bachelor’s in nursing and working on my Master’s Degree in nursing at Chamberlain University. I moved to the USA almost 13 years ago

Kenneice Kelley received her GED under Friendship New Vision (SOS). “During that time I was having a rough time focusing and staying on task. I continued although many obstacles got in my way. I received my GED June 2013. I was surrounded by family and friends. I was crying and overjoyed because I couldn’t believe I passed my test. My hard work was worth it. I continued my education by attending Ultimate Medical Academy and I graduated with a Billing and Coding Certificate.

“I am currently working at Vibrant Life Senior Living. My job is wonderful and the residents are a part of my family. This fall I am planning on going back to college for Medical Assistant. I want to obtain my dream job at Toledo Hospital or the University Alabama Birmingham Hospital. I want to learn as much as I can to provide for my family.

“Thank you to all the teachers, speakers and mentors that help us to obtain our GED!”
Angel Tall attended Friendship New Vision (SOS) GED program at the Frederick Douglas Center and received her GED in 2012.

“The program taught me so much and the support was enormous. I am for forever grateful. Without God and the program I would still be lost.”

“I went on to further my education and graduated from Professional Skills Institute in December 2019.

“I am currently a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). The program was a true blessing to me. I wanted to better myself but I didn’t know how to go about it. I am employed at Elmwood of Fremont.”

Yahana Ramsey-Evans, a single parent, attended WBW before the doors closed, Determined to reach her goal she attended Friendship New Vision (SOS) program at the Collingwood Arts Center, the Frederick Douglas Center and then at Friendship Baptist Church. Yahana received her GED in 2012.

“The WBW family was and still is a blessing to not just me but my family. Many doors have been opened and even my children are to accomplish things that I never thought possible. Most times I would doubt myself or want to give up or slack off cause life got too hard and two important ladies Glenda Brown and Nickie Hutchen would tell me that’s not an option. The staff always told us to never do it for others but do it for you!

“I am thankful I pushed through and got my GED. I was over-joyed for it was the best feeling ever to know at thirty-four years old I was making my dream come true by enrolling in college.”

Yahana just recently completed her Associates Degree in Contemporary Business Management at Stautzenberger College on April 2, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 ceremony was canceled. “I am currently working toward obtaining my Braiding and Manager’s License to pursue my dream of becoming a hair and nail boutique/daycare owner in the future!” Yahana is currently married and both of her children have graduated from high school.

Christina Russell attended Friendship New Vision (SOS) GED program at the Collingwood Arts Center and received her GED in 2012.

Able held the graduation at Owens Community College, where you see Christina with her daughter in the photo.

After receiving her GED Christina focused on her goals and achieved her Certificate of Excellence as “Senior Designer” in November 2019, at JC Penney Salon, which is located at the Shops at Fallen Timbers in Maumee, Ohio.

Antoinette (Toni) Thomas attended WBW before the organization closed. Afterwards she continued attending GED Classes and the Empowerment program which was now under Friendship New Vision-(SOS) Sisters of Strength. Antoinette received my GED on April 23, 2013.

“This was one of the happiest days of my life. This program changed my life in so many ways. The ladies and every volunteer for this program gave me the courage to keep moving forward, even when I doubted myself. I want to say a special thank you to Ms. Glenda Brown and Mrs. Sharon Cannon-Barrow for all those talks and encouragement.

“I received my Bachelor’s in Human Services in August 2020. I have a GPA of 3.5 and I also am a part of the University of Phoenix Honor Society.

“I currently work for the Home Depot Distribution Center in Lucky, Ohio.”

Tiffany Young attended Women Blessing Women located on Page Street. It didn’t take her long at all and she received her GED in April 2011 before the doors closed. Tiffany had set high goals for herself.

Tiffany went on to college and graduated on May 20, 2013 with her Associates of Science, with Honors, as both a Phi Theta Kappa and a Chi Alpha Epsilon member. She went on to transfer to work on her Bachelors and then her Doctorate. (Tiffany is shown in the photo above with her husband and two children.

Tiffany received her Bachelor Degree in Psychology and went on for a Masters in Mental Health Counseling. She is a licensed counselor in the State of Ohio. She has been working for several years. She was working at Unison Health before finishing her Grad studies.

2020 Update: Tiffany is currently working at the Community Counseling Center in Ashtabula, Ohio.