Stories from the Hive
Shera is a mother of four children aged 4-13 who lives in Curtis Bay, Maryland. Her face lights up with a big smile when you ask about her kids, and when you ask her about Hon’s Honey.
“I love that Hon’s Honey’s mission is all about helping women,” explains Shera. “You might feel like you’re at the bottom, and no one is listening, and no one cares, and you feel like you can barely take care of your children, but you can have hope when you come here.”
She used to be a person who was always running late. If you told her she needed to be at work by 8:30, she might show up by 9:00. But now when she wakes up in the morning, she can’t wait to get to the Hon’s Honey Hive. “I’m usually here early, and I’m telling the others, ‘Come on, let’s do this!’”
Before working at Hon’s Honey, Shera had a hard time getting a job because of her background. “I couldn’t get a job because I’m a felon,” she explains. “ And now I have this one where I can make a statement for women. I want others like me to know that there are people here who will give you a chance. All you have to do is show up and do the work. It makes me feel so proud of myself because I’m working for my pay. I’m contributing by making something beautiful.”
It also makes her feel like her children have a mom they can be proud of. “The kids used to have to come visit me in jail. Now they can visit me at my job. It’s making such a big difference in my life, and in my kids’ lives, and in our relationship too. They’re all in with me. That’s a big deal to me, and I feel so blessed to be a part of Hon’s Honey.”
Shera loves to use the Tea Tree Charcoal ‘Warsh’ Bar because it makes her skin feel so amazing. But she loves to make the Lip Balm. “It’s really personal to me,” explains Shera. “Your lips are one of the first things people see, especially when you’re talking to them, so I like to make sure the Lip Balm smells really good when you open it, and glides on easily.
“I never had a childhood”, Stacey remembers. Stacey is a survivor of childhood molestation. She endured years of physical and mental abuse from her family members. She would be kicked out of the house in the morning and not allowed to come home until the streetlights turned on. She found herself on the streets of Curtis Bay and had to fight every day. Family drunkenness and fights were a nightly occurrence. Co-dependency issues for Stacey began during her childhood when she would jump into the middle of a family fight attempting to break them up.
The last 6 months of her senior year of high school her parents moved to another state taking with them the little sister she had practically raised. They left her home by herself to finish her senior year. During which time a drunken night with girlfriends took an ugly turn and Stacey endured another act of sexual abuse.
Out of high school Stacey started a job at the prison. Using her street smarts she excelled in that environment and received various awards and promotions, ultimately making a 3-figure income. She remembers a conversation with one convict where she asked why he kept coming back after serving time so many times before. She didn’t understand addiction. She asked God to give her insight as to the reason people kept returning to prison. Her next job was tending bar she was trying to work enough hours to make close to what she was before. However, when she had time to sleep, she couldn’t. Someone told her if she did a shot after her shift, it would help her to get right to sleep. That was the beginning of Stacey’s alcoholism.
For a year Stacey lived in a “black tunnel” when she didn’t want to die, but didn’t want to live. Eventually, a therapist urged her to call a rehabilitation center where she ended up for 30 days. She found freedom in radical acceptance by people that were just like her—broken. Upon her release, she went back to a struggling marriage and stressful environment and began drinking again. She received a DUI and DWI and went to jail for 2 months and 22 days in isolation. She was released into another rehab and went to drug and alcohol court. She had a drug and alcohol bracelet that tested her blood levels every half hour. The judge ordered her to not to go home.
After working for 22 years she suffered a nervous breakdown and exhausted her FMLA benefits with medical care for bleeding ulcers and multiple surgeries. She was terminated for absenteeism. For the next few years, she was mostly clean but living without purpose.
Stacey started volunteering at The Well five years ago, but says, “I didn’t go through the COR Life Mentorship Program until 2 years ago when I relapsed and my friends here called me out on it. I went through the program to show the others that it doesn't matter how high you are in life, you can always fall and you still need people to come beside you and help you up. And now everything I do is for the other women who might come along seeking support.”
“My favorite product is the lip balm. It reminds me of my grandmother. She always said, “You gotta take care of dem lips!” All of the products are so good for the skin. There’s nothing I like more than making the soap. The combination of mixing ingredients and smelling the essential oils calms and relaxes me. I enjoy seeing it all come together like a piece of artwork.”
Angie has been with The Well for the last five years. She was one of the first graduates of the COR Life Mentorship program at The Well. “I was involved with Hon’s Honey before we even knew it would be Hon’s Honey. All we knew was we had this vision of a land flowing with milk and honey.” So seeing this come to fruition after a year of hard work brings tears of joy to Angie’s eyes. Angie had a huge hand in kick-starting Hon’s Honey with her creation of the lotion bar.
“What’s really great is when I hear other people say how much they love our products. Hearing that is very cool to me.”
The impact on the community is going to be big. It has the potential to change the community for the better. “Five years ago I wanted to be out of Curtis Bay as fast as I could, but now, The Well and Hon’s Honey makes me want to stay so I can help the other women in this community.” explains Angie.
She is excited to be a part of the change that is happening through Hon’s Honey.
I like the people I work with here. It was so cool when we got to reveal the products and the name of our business at the Gala. It was really fun.
I love to use the Lemongrass ‘Warsh’ Bar because it smells so good and the ‘Shuga’ Scrub because it makes my skin glow and makes my hands feel so soft.