I came to Begin Anew because I believe in what they do! And, what do they do? The very short answer is: we give people the opportunity to help themselves.
One of those people is my friend A. A. comes to the Begin Anew classes in Franklin, Tennessee. A. has been there since I started. He knows more about what goes on than I do sometimes. And he is happy - very happy! He is an upbeat guy who always brings a smile to my face. So much so, that I asked him to speak at our big fundraiser recently.
And he was a hit. Bringing his A-game when interviewed by Channel 4’s own Holly Thompson, he had the crowd in his hand. She asked him all kinds of questions. But I will remember 3 things that he said. First, he said he came because someone told him they were serving tacos. He turned and surveyed the whole room of 400 plus people, asking where he might find them. Then he joked that he came across the border when he was 15… from Italy. Another hit. He had the room in the palm of his hand. They saw what I see in him every week: his humor, light-heartedness and most of all, his resilience. A lot of resilience.
Then Holly asked him what he wanted to communicate to everyone. And this was his answer: In his thick Mexican accent, he said, “Whether you are 20 or 30 or 60 or 70 – never give up on your dreams.” I do not know if he finished with the following, but at least this is what I have imagined: “Here, your dreams can come true.” And by here, he meant in a program like Begin Anew and in this place we inhabit - The United States of America. Anything is possible here. And it is right here he chose to Begin Anew.
At the end of her prep with him, Holly Thompson asked me if I had any thoughts, and before I thought (which is not all that uncommon) I answered her, “I am just proud to have people like him here. Really proud. He works 80 hours a week and goes to school. Yeah, I’m proud to have someone like him as my student.”
A. became a Christian recently and he is only two tests away from passing the HiSET and receiving his diploma. I’m so glad he made the choice to Begin Anew. Not only does he have a new future ahead of him, but he also has a new life in Christ.
-Submitted by Trey Holt, Begin Anew Program Director