LaDawnna shares the resources available at the Betty Ballard Lighthouse Women’s Resource Center.
I started the Betty Ballard Lighthouse Women’s Resource Center, and Betty Ballard was my mother. She passed away a few years ago.
But I dedicated it to her because I thought my mother was weak because she took the abuse that my father gave her.
But my mother had nine children and she had no place to go. She wasn’t educated and she knew how to take whatever my father gave her and made it work for what we needed.
There was times when we didn’t eat. We had no food for days at a time. My father would disappear. But my mother made things work. She made sure we had clean clothes.
We may have had to wear the same things a couple of times in the same week, actually two days in a row, but we didn’t have all the nice things that other people had.
And she would say, you know, it’s really not that bad. It’s going to get better, just know that this is only temporary. That was always her thing, this is only temporary.
Well temporary seemed to last for years but I realized later on it made me appreciate what I have.
Today’s people feel like they are supposed to, we are supposed to do something for them, especially our young people. They deserve it just because they were born, we are supposed to do all these things for them.
Well we had to work for everything that we had, and because we had to work for and it wasn’t given to us we appreciated it more, which meant we took better care of it than they do now-a-days.
People take $500 phones and throw them on the counter, you know, we didn’t have phones like that. So things are so different.
So because of everything that happened to me I opened up the Betty Ballard Lighthouse Women’s Resource Center because women need a place to go that it’s like a refuge.
When you come there, right away you’ll see something is different. I have beautiful sofas and flowers and pictures and it’s a place where they can come and feel comfortable.
It’s safe and even down to the detail work in the bathrooms, each bathroom look like someone’s living room.
It smells pretty because I want women to know you are beautiful and this was for you because you deserve this because they then used to going to resource places that look like something the welfare people put together, you know, we don’t care about you. If you really wanted to help you just take whatever we give you. I think they deserve better.
There’s a lot of women that want help but they are afraid. They don’t know how to get it, and when they get to the place where they build up enough courage to get it they go in and then somebody treat them like they are trash.
You go to a welfare office and they will treat you like you are taking their paycheck, like they are doing you a favor.
And when, in fact, it’s a helping hand. We just need your help for a minute and then we get on our feet and we’ll move on, but when you come to the lighthouse everything is setup to build self-esteem.
The all-about-you library, everything in it deals with women issues, whether it is depression, or turning 50, or how to make a great meal, I want to be a better parent, how to balance my checkbook – all of those things are in that library and it is very well put together.
Everything is soft with very soft colors. Everything smells good. The books are in the right place. Nothing is out of place for you.
It’s a place that you can tell that a woman put it together. And the computer lab – we have a computer lab that we teach basic computer skills on how to do Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.
And then we have a class on preparing for a job, and that’s where we teach how to do resumes, cover letters and go online and fill out application. And then we do mock interviews with you going back and forth, giving you questions and then asking questions that you should ask of the people.
It gets them comfortable so that, again, when they go out to look for a job they are ready. They have already gone through their whole interview process so they are confident.
We showed them how to dress. We have a self-esteem room where we teach them how to wear makeup because sometimes we tend to wear way too much makeup, or we wear hairstyles that don’t really fit our face.
So I have professional women come in, teach them how to wear their makeup, how to fix their hair.
I have a woman on my board who owns a beauty supply store. She donates all these wigs. I have two or three barber shops that would do free haircuts for the women and then we teach them inside beauty and outside beauty.
So I have mirrors all over the place so they are constantly looking at themselves how they are now and then I show them, I have them close their eyes and visualize how you are going to look later.
This is what you are going to look like when you get to the finish part. But we are going to go through the process, small at a time.
We have a closet that we have only business attire. I don’t take any clothes that are blue jeans or shorts or things like that.
Everything that go in that closet it come out ready to go right to the job interview. They are ready. So they don’t have to think, you know, well what am I going to wear? What am I going to do?
We already take them through all of that to take that edge off so when they get there they got it. They are confident.
Then we have classrooms – abundant life classes. It teaches everything from self-defense classes to loving yourself. Again, how to do a budget for your life.
How to live on a couple of nickels and get things done. So everything is about building self-esteem – everything about the place. So that’s what we do it and that’s it. That’s what I was born for, I really believe that.
When I opened that Lighthouse, I opened it up in July and I had 1800 square feet. I convinced someone to give me a bigger space. I now have 9,000 square feet for a dollar for the next five years.
And in that time I have to you know, I still have to pay for the lights so I go out and I talk to people and when you go there, I tell you everything is beautiful, furniture, and it’s all donated.
I go wherever people are and I say you know, this is what we are doing, can you help us?
And I have people saying no to me and I have people blog terrible things to us but it doesn’t matter.
The bottom line is we help the women – that’s we are supposed to do. If I have one woman; I’ll take your abuse. I’ll take the bad things that you say about me because it’s about helping women.
And within the Lighthouse we do something that’s called a community baby shower every year. This will be our fourth year.
We help 300 new and expecting moms get a fresh start. So every single woman gets baby diapers, wipes and bottles.
And then I have convinced Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart to donate gift cards and gifts so everybody gets something like bassinette, baby beds, baby soap. And not coupons like some places give you. They give the actual items.
And if it’s too much for them to care we take them home with all of their stuff.
So they have strollers, then we have an all-day seminar. They have to go through all the seminars because you got to get some teaching out of this.
They go through the all-day seminars before they can get any of the gifts. We bring them in this room where the gifts are lined up all over the place and they are just floored because it’s always more than enough.
We go out, and I don’t want anything used for these new mommies. Everything has to be brand new because they are so used to getting used stuff and Goodwill stuff.
I want them to have everything brand new because I want them to know that you can get it and you deserve it but some people don’t think they deserve anything new but they do.
And when you start like that a lot of those mothers have come back and gone through the abundant life classes simply because we treat them like they are special.
We treat them like yes, you deserve this. We love on them. Each one has a special, a person that goes around with them and we feed them likewise so that person will carry all their stuff.
We baby them completely. We constantly ask, do you need anything? We feed them ice-cream, we give them milk. We don’t give them soda.
We give them milk and places like Safeway and Bashas and Kentucky Fried Chicken had donated all the food for us.
So everything – tell you, when you believe in what you do you can convince people to do pretty much anything.
So I go out and I talk and I tell them what we are doing and my organization is a 100 percent voluntary. Nobody gets paid. All the money we get goes back into the Lighthouse - every single dime.
Now, at some point I would like to pay some of the people, unfortunately, because we can’t pay them they have to go out and work. So we can only get so many hours from them, but at some point we are going to get it so that we can pay the people.
I mean we can’t pay them what they deserve because doing what we do is not easy, and it takes a lot of patience and you have to love what you are doing.
And so one of the things that I do when they come in, when people interview with me, I interview all of the people, all of my volunteers.
I tell them whatever personal problem you had, you need to stop in my office first and get rid of it before you go out there because these women already had issues. When they walk through the door they don’t need to hear your problems.
They need to know that when they come here that you are going to listen to what they have to say and you are going to help them not you telling them your story – they don’t need that, or that you got an issue today or you got emotional problems today, they don’t do that.
When a woman come to me and say, “You know I talked to one of your people and they insulted me.” I find out what the problem was and if in fact they really did I let them go.
These women, they had too many, that’s a setback for them. They had too many things going on. They don’t need that. They get that on the people out there.
They get that from the family members and from the so-called friends. When they come to the Lighthouse they are only going to get love and complete 100 percent attention, whatever they need, while we have them.
And then we just keep up with them. I try to keep up with them. This is almost our first full year and I try to keep up with them. I want to keep up with them for at least two years.
Even though I have been doing the abundant life classes since 2003 those women, there’s big change in those women.
But a lot of them have come back to volunteer with me at the Lighthouse so I still have a few of them from the very beginning. So it’s working.
About LaDawnna Hudson:
Pastor LaDawnna Hudson is the CEO and founder of Women of Power International as well as the first lady and pastor of Shield of Faith Christian Center in Mesa, Arizona. LaDawnna's desire to help women stems from her early years of abuse, depression and poverty. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan in the late 50's, the fourth of nine children, she saw firsthand the struggle of her mother and other women being undereducated, suffering with low self-esteem and being abused by men who treated them more like property than wives. She too suffered hard times, she was raped, beaten, strangled, suffocated, ran down by a car and married to a man who tried to kill her twice. LaDawnna's journey through her troubled past motivates her to help other hurting women change their lives.