On Jan. 30, 2017, Melinda Alvarez started her “new future” – a new job at the new Nationstar Mortgage loan servicing center in Longview. It’s a new start she attributes to a life-changing faith experience and then a life-changing opportunity offered by Heartisans Marketplace.
“Before I got connected with Heartisans, I was at a rough time in life, just feeling lost and hopeless s, not understanding my purpose really,” says Melinda, who has five children: Lavell, Lamont, Latrell, Marley and King. She’s engaged to David Moody with a wedding date set of July 7, 2017.
Melinda says she felt like she was “always coming up short.” Then Buckner Children and Family Services came to the apartment complex where she lives and provided a summer lunch and Bible study program for families living there. That’s where Melinda met a woman she describes as “her good friend,” Renee Robertson, a Heartisans Advisory Board Member.
“Now, looking back, seeing it was all the Lord’s will and we were there to meet for a purpose,” Melinda says.
She started attending church with Renee, and that, in turn, led her to Heartisans and its’ job training program.
“Before I started Heartisans I was nervous and scared, being judged my whole life, didn’t know what to expect, but I immediately felt God’s Spirit and love and automatically felt comfortable, greeted and loved with open arms,” she recalls.
Heartisans career matches their program participants and then uses the ACT WorkKeys job training program to prepare women for the ACT WorkKeys tests, also requiring them to complete ten soft skills certifications. But Heartisans’ program emcompasses so much more.
“The math was the hardest part, but having the best ladies’ support and ecouragement made it a great experience,” Melinda says. “What I enjoyed most was how strong the love for the Lord was. You can feel it when you first step in and it never stops. I love the women, volunteers, and of course, Mrs. Julee. (Julee Rachels, Heartisans’ founder).”
Julee pointed to the community that helped Melinda move to this new stage in her life: Dr. Chris Mack, for instance, provided dental work when she needed it; and Trey Patterson, owner of Patterson Nissan in Longview, donated a used van to the family. “People who shop in Heartisans’ retail store or who donate financially make Heartisans’ work possible,” she stated.
As Melinda started her new job, she says she is “blessed and thankful,” and looking forward to one day “giving back” as others have done for her.
“It is overall life changing,” she says. “I am lost for words…. (Heartisans) is by far a blessing, and I am so grateful to have been and still be a part of my Heartisans family. My goal is to put God first and help support my family, and I’m doing that now.”