CWJC helps former addict discover her calling

CWJC helps former addict discover her calling

A New Orleans woman who struggled for years with homelessness and addiction is now helping to run a pottery ministry and working to open her own restaurant, thanks to support from Baptist ministries and Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) Foundation funds.

‘A miracle’

“It’s a miracle,” said Kay Bennett, executive director of the Baptist Friendship House, a ministry for homeless women and children on the edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter. “If you had seen her for 10 years like that you would have never thought she could do what she’s doing. It amazes even her.”

Yvonne Schaad moved to New Orleans from New Jersey in 2001 to get away from a domestic violence situation, and after living through some hard years and weathering Hurricane Katrina she ended up on the streets homeless and battling alcoholism.

Year after year Bennett invited Schaad into Friendship House, a ministry of the North American Mission Board and New Orleans Baptist Association. 

Over time she eventually started sleeping on the front porch, then accepted some of their snacks and hygiene products. 

One day she started coming inside for showers, then Bible studies — and in July 2015 she stopped drinking completely.

“I accepted Jesus as my Savior in August 2015, and through His help and Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) at Friendship House I have regained the many things that the streets took from me,” Schaad said. “I realize what a good friend God is in my life and He is the most important thing.”  

With the help of Friendship House staff, Schaad earned her GED studying at night under the street lights. In the years since she has gotten her driver’s license back, secured a home of her own and earned her food handler certification.

And in 2018, CWJC presented her with the Sybil Bentley Dove Endowment Award, its highest honor with a scholarship attached.

Bennett said the scholarship “encouraged Schaad and made her believe in herself.”

Schaad used the money to enroll at a local community college where she’s studying culinary arts with plans to one day own a food truck or café. She recently completed an intense algebra course with a 99.6 average.

“I have gained my self-respect back,” Schaad said. “I have gained skills to help me obtain employment, and I have become self-sufficient.”

SBC debut

With scholarship funds she also took a pottery class and is helping teach those skills to other women through CWJC, offering them both a creative outlet and a way to earn money. 

Their pottery will debut at the WorldCrafts store in the exhibit hall of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference and annual meeting June 9–12 in Birmingham. (WMU Foundation)