Carol has been working at Wear Gloves for 4 years. Since the days of coming and working 2 1/2 hours a week for a Publix gift card, Carol has seen growth not just in herself but throughout the facility that she’s grown to call home. Carol has worked at just about every opportunity here at the Dignity Center throughout the years. Even making pallet signs, which she recalls was something she would have never expected to do. Currently, Carol is a grinder at Dignity Roasters. She can be found there 3 days a week grinding and bagging subscription orders. When the coffee shop is slower, she assembles parts for the warehouse.
Carol had just celebrated 4 years of sobriety a few days before the day I met her. She recalled the days and life before she made her decision to interview at Wear Gloves. The days of being homeless, living in her car. “The reason I was homeless, I was an alcoholic,” said Carol. She attended Church in the Garden long before she made the step of coming to the Dignity Center. She remembers the day she finally came for an interview and started working, “It was like a totally different world. Out on the streets you have your drugs and alcohol. I was never in the drug scene. It was scary out there…but coming here…I could feel that…”, as Carol briefly paused to place the correct word, “aura.” She continued with, “It was safe, the outside world was out there.”
When Carol entered recovery and found housing at the Unity House, a local recovery house here in town, she never thought about how she would pay her rent. Ken and Wendy, seeing the need, increased her hours in order to allow her enough work to pay her rent and phone bill. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work, but I wanted something different.”
With everything Carol has done around the campus, meeting new and safe people stands out the most to her. When Dignity Roasters opened, she was trained to grind coffee and had the opportunity to earn her restaurant certification. We continued discussing the nature and environment found at the Dignity Center. She credits the support and safety she feels here for her success in her recovery, and the ability to continue striving. In a thoughtful manner Carol said, “They are just so kind and I was never really surrounded by someone who believed in me.” She spoke multiple times about the environment and encouragement she gets every day she shows up for work. “When your boss introduces you and says, ‘here’s the superstar’, that is just everything.”
Carol is still figuring out her next steps, possibly getting her own place here in Ocala or maybe up north if she finds the courage to brave the cold again. However for now, she is focusing on getting her health back and being able to help others. She breathes lighter when she is on campus and doing her part to serve. She enjoys the work she’s blessed to do. She offers up assistance to others in need when she can, even when she doesn’t feel qualified. The gentle spirits and guidance she finds here boosts her confidence. For Carol, knowing there is always someone around that cares about you is key. She admits it’s unsettling to think where her life may have been without this place. She reminisced about the times she would come solely to be in a welcoming and loving environment. Even if there was no work to do, just coming and being here. She hopes to continue offering that same kindness, feeling of safety and hope to anyone else in need of it.
As we finished up, Carol headed back inside to hit play on her “oldies music” and get to work grinding and bagging those delightful brown Dignity Roasters bags that keep us moving through our days.