Kina Jones found herself part of a generational cycle; like her grandmother and mother, she became pregnant at 15. Also like her grandmother and mother, she dropped out of high school in eleventh grade. She had suffered mental and physical abuse as well as struggled with substance abuse. Then God did a work in her life.
Kina found Begin Anew, a Christian Women’s Job Corps site, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kina recalls, “When I first got to CWJC I met Ms. Julie and me and Ms. Julie, we just clicked, you know? They call it a mentor; I call it a friend.”
Julie Russell, who was Kina’s mentor at Begin Anew and now serves as site coordinator, said Kina told her when they met that she was going to graduate with her GED in a year and a half.
“She had her mind set on a goal and she was going to get it,” Julie said. “Her heart was in it. I can not tell you a time she didn’t show up and she wasn’t prepared.”
Ellen Adams, a volunteer teacher in Begin Anew’s literacy program, said Kina’s reading level initially disqualified her from participating in the GED program.
“Through hard work and determination, Kina improved her reading enough to move through the literacy program into the GED program and to graduation,” Ellen said. “Kina is the ultimate example of resolve and desire for change. She worked and worked and worked to get where she is today.”
Kina graduated from Begin Anew’s High School Equivalency Program in 2016 and graduated from their computer and job skills program in 2018. She started her own business cleaning houses and has been attending a trade school to achieve her goal of being a medical office worker.
“She is very driven to help others,” Julie said, “and while she is able to do this in her housekeeping business, she deeply desires helping those going through difficult times.”
After graduating, Kina has continued to be actively involved with Begin Anew.
“She volunteered weekly at our site as a greeter for the students and volunteers, unlocking the door as they arrived and greeting them with a big smile of encouragement,” Julie shared.
“She also attends our Bible study faithfully and is such an encouragement to the current students. Even while we have been meeting virtually on zoom, she continues to participate, offering her support. Kina is full of life and is so encouraging.
“Kina is very involved in her church and their community work,” Julie continued. “She has even taken me with her and some of her church members to help feed women in shelters. She has a strong love for the Lord and is thankful for this opportunity to turn her life around. Every step of the way, Kina has given the glory to God.”
A mother of three, Kina earned her GED at the age of 50. “It just broke that [generational] chain,” she said. “I made sure all my babies graduated from high school. When they graduated that chain was broken.”
Kina was recognized at the as the recipient of the Sybil Bentley Dove award – an honor given annually to an outstanding CWJC graduate — during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Nashville on June 13. Later that evening, she was going to attend a graduation celebration for her grandson.
The chain is broken, indeed.
Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps are Compassion Ministries of WMU that began in 1996. These ministries seek to equip women and men, in a Christian context, for life and employment. For more information, visit wmu.com/jobcorps. The Sybil Bentley Dove award is made possible through the Dove endowment through the WMU Foundation.
*by Julie Walters, WMU corporate communications manager