LONGVIEW—The Buckner Family Hope Center offered free meals for children at BK Mazone’s apartment complex each Wednesday during the summer a couple of years ago.
Mazone’s children participated every time, part of the swarm of young people that eagerly enveloped Buckner staff for lunch, activities and fun. She smiled as she recalled it.
“It felt right,” she said of connecting with Buckner. Soon, she discovered firsthand how right it could feel.
Not many bright spots
The Buckner summer feeding program was one of the few bright spots in Mazone’s life. She was a single mom with no job, transportation or income. She had a felony on her record. It was “pretty much rock bottom,” she said.
Buckner staff invited Mazone to take classes at the Hope Center, and she jumped at the opportunity.
“The very first time I walked into Buckner, I was angry, depressed, just down and out, always,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it if I didn’t tell you, but there was a lot of anxiety. There was a lot of drive, but nothing to put it into. I didn’t know who I could talk to or reach out to.”
One class after another
Mazone’s first class focused on finances. That led her to enroll in Bible studies at the Hope Center and First Baptist Church in Longview. Next, she attended a Jobs for Life employment skills class, and then family coaching. She visited the Buckner resale shop. Her thirst to better herself and her family was insatiable.
“She has this amazing drive,” said Courtney Barr, family coach at the Hope Center. “She’s so smart. She’s done pretty much every program we offer at the Family Hope Center except ESL, which she doesn’t need. We’ve done our best to equip her and now she’s soaring.”
Major life changes
The experiences changed Mazone’s life. Through the Jobs for Life class, she connected with an employer and was hired. Mazone believes in herself and her ability to overcome obstacles. Recently, she moved into a better housing situation and passed a test that will empower her to get better paying work.
“Something clicked,” Barr said. “She realized: ‘I don’t have to be here. I can be successful.’ Getting a job really boosted her self-confidence.”
Now, Mazone has goals in mind and a plan for working toward reaching those goals.
“Any resources Buckner has, I always take it and run with it,” she said. “They know more people than I do.”
Hope for the future
With each success, Mazone sees her life transform, and she optimistically looks toward the future. Buckner connected Mazone to people who encouraged and helped her. She made connections to people who were willing to look past her felony and give her a chance. She’s rewarded them with hard work and dedication.
Mazone hopes to enroll in college this fall. School is another step in strengthening her family.
“I’ve pretty much completed every task I’ve taken on,” she said. “Life is better—200 percent better.”