Walking through the Austin neighborhood, you’d never know that inside a warehouse on Carroll and Pulaski, a cohort of new mothers are changing their economic destiny — and it’s through the light of a flame.
Angelique, 22, first found out about Bright Endeavors through her godsister, who encouraged her to enroll in the 12-week-long transitional job training program. Bright Endeavors is a home fragrance social enterprise connected to New Moms, a United Way agency partner in the Austin neighborhood. New Moms is a nonprofit that employs a two-generation approach to put families experiencing poverty in control of their goals and unleash their potential.
Though they are known for their handmade soy candles, behind the scenes, Bright Endeavors educates mothers on financial literacy and professional development while they are employed through the company. Each mother plays a key role in the candle making process.
Angelique started in February and quickly worked her way up to a candle pourer and became team lead for a group of production assistants. Though it’s the most labor-intensive position, Angelique loves her role.
“Pouring isn’t that hard if you pay attention and you’re a fast learner,” she said. “And I am a fast learner.” She and her team produce at least 1,400 candles from start to finish, every day. The candles are sold online and 100% of Bright Endeavor’s proceeds are funneled back into New Moms’ mission of empowering young moms and their children.
This immersive program is a transformational opportunity for many of the women — half of which enter the Bright Endeavors training program while experiencing homelessness and the majority are unemployed. By the end of the program, Production Assistants will have identified career and educational goals to transition into and start the next stage of their lives, just as they have stepped into motherhood.
Many of the program’s participants feel the most important part is being able to build a community of new mothers. This is especially true for Angelique, who is currently pregnant with her first child.
“For the first-time moms, it’s easier for them to bond with people whose kids are already born,” Angelique said. “So the things we don’t know, [current mothers] can help us out with that.”
Bright Endeavors makes the journey to motherhood less intimidating and provides a built-in network of support for economic stability. Angelique has her sights set on a nursing career, but until then, she feels fulfilled exactly where she is.
You can buy a Bright Endeavors candle online at https://brightendeavors.org.
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By Tate Samata, AmeriCorps Multimedia Journalist