Local program provides training and hope to homeless women | KOB 4

Local program provides training and hope to homeless women

Emily Jaceks
December 05, 2018 07:01 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—It might not be the most recognizable building in Albuquerque, but what's happening inside the TenderLove Community Center is remarkable.


Debbie Johnson said she knows what it's like to live on the streets. 

After moving to the states from Nigeria, she was homeless for three months in Indiana before finding work. That motivated her to give back and start the nonprofit.

“Of course food is good if you’re hungry and nobody wants to stay naked. But they need something, they need to be empowered to live self-sufficient lives to provide for their families, rather than depend on anybody,” Johnson said.

That's why she decided to create a program, called Sew For Real, to help women just like her get back on their feet and gain the skills needed to support themselves.

“I was homeless and I had passed by this building so many times,” Rebekah Najar, Sew For Real participant said. “This is where they taught me how to find peace, how to be relieved.”

More than a dozen women are now in the middle of the 12-month program. They are learning how to professionally design, tailor, alter, and sew a number of items. They work four days a week, several hours a day, and receive a meal while training.

“We normally make sure they don't lack anything while they are with us,” Johnson said.

Their latest achievement is in creating a mobile mending unit that will take in items to generate income for graduates.

“To keep the ladies busy, some of our graduates who will work together. It is like a club, so they work together, make money together,” Johnson said.

Others will even be recruited by local businesses or will start their own business.

Those nearing graduation said their future now looks bright, thanks to Johnson.

“She humanized me again. I was dehumanized and she didn't let me talk negative. It was all…I was gonna make it….yes, yes, yes,” Najar said.


Emily Jaceks

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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