Hello, it’s me, Amanda!
I have the privilege of sharing a bit about myself, and about what Omega has meant to me.
For almost two years, I have been managing a coffee shop called Well & Good Coffee House in Tigard, Oregon USA. If you happen to frequent our shop and you’re wondering why my face doesn’t look familiar, it’s because I washed my hair and put my face on for this photo! Just really wanted to look nice for you.
Well & Good operates as a non-profit organization. That means we get to meet some really great people. We get to partner with really sweet organizations, like Omega. Now, I’d love to take all the credit and say this partnership was my idea, but for sure it was not.
See, when I first started at Well & Good, I was learning how to be a manager. I was also learning how to do almost everything else because I had not even a little bit of coffee shop experience.
I spent my first few weeks at the coffee house looking like a deer in the headlights. I mean, seriously, I was in so over my head. I lost most of my fingerprints because of how often I burned myself! I was handed so many things I had no idea what to do with.
So, I leaned hard into the few things I already knew. For me, the biggest one was the importance of relationships.
In the midst of beginning this new role and trying to absorb everything, I was told about an upcoming partnership: Well & Good would be working with Omega to give employment experience to women who needed a chance for a next step, in a safe place.
On one hand, I was thrilled to hear of this partnership because of its relational aspect. That’s the one thing I knew how to do. It’s what I was clinging to. But on the other hand, it would all be happening as Savannah, the previous manager would be leaving, and while I was taking over.
If I remember correctly, I got this news on my way into my first meeting with Janna Kainos and Susie Cottis of Omega. My verbal response was something chill like, “Oh cool,” but the rest of me had zero chill.
I sat down with Susie and Janna. I watched as they talked with Savannah about what this internship would look like. They shared about their first intern and how excited they were about the changes happening in her life.
I know that Janna and Susie also spoke to me. And I’m pretty sure I responded and nodded along eagerly. But, oh my gosh, all I remember is feeling totally and completely overwhelmed…
I was unequipped and so hesitant. I was just learning this new job myself. The idea of taking on some sort of intern seemed like the most inconvenient thing I could have possibly imagined.
It turned out that my last week of training was the first week of the Omega intern. And while I don’t remember exactly what we said during our first meeting, I will never forget meeting my girl “Elizabeth” for the first time. (I will refer to her as “Elizabeth,” to protect her identity.) Small, quiet, beautiful Elizabeth was dressed cooler than I’ll ever be able to dress in my lifetime.
Janna and Susie had given me an overview of who Elizabeth was and what she was leaving behind. But the details… Those were for Elizabeth to share on her own if and when she wanted.
Elizabeth and I—while leaving completely different things behind—started our new chapters in life at the same time.
Over the next few weeks, we had little moments of getting to know each other. Sometimes, we had small talk. Sometimes, she shared funny stories about her son.
But oftentimes, Elizabeth encouraged and affirmed me in my new role as manager. Our small talk turned into sharing our stories. Our team meetings began to feel incomplete if Elizabeth’s son wasn’t there with us.
It became evident that Elizabeth was more than an intern. She had become one of the heartbeats of the coffee shop, a part of our Well & Good family.
I have watched people’s moods turn around when Elizabeth smiles in their direction. I have been changed by seeing the bravery and courage she brings to each day. I am overwhelmed when I think of how many people’s lives Elizabeth will touch through her story of renewal and transformation.
My part in this greater story is small. It was just a matter of saying “Yes.” It was saying “Yes” when uncertainty made me want to say “No.”
I believe with every fiber of my being that relationships are everything. While we all have different stories, different circumstances, and different motivations, we all need to thrive. Every person needs others in their corner, rooting them on as they grow. And every person needs a safe space to do that.
Omega’s vision is clear: every woman must be seen, known, loved, and cared for. Nobody’s story exempts them from receiving that kind of love.
Elizabeth’s vision is also clear: She is working hard to create new life-giving chapters for her and her son.
I have learned that the relationships worth pursuing are often inconvenient. I have learned from Elizabeth what bravery looks like. It’s more than leaving a bad situation. It’s more than starting over.
Bravery looks like sharing your story with people you trust. It looks like forgiving yourself and extending grace as often as you can. It looks like the selfless kind of love that moms seem to be so good at.
Maybe I should just say bravery looks a lot like Elizabeth.
For me, working at Well & Good is an answer to some super-specific prayers about the kind of job I always wanted. Every day, I get to work with, partner with, and serve some of the best people on the entire planet.
For Elizabeth, Omega stepped in and advocated for her well-being and her future.
It’s this partnership, the vision of Well & Good entwining with the vision of Omega that has given us much more than we could have asked or hoped for. Of course, there are times that this adventure doesn’t look or go how we would want. But, the vision and the goal remain the same.
I believe that God cares so deeply about us. He is in the business of redeeming our stories so that we can experience the healing and joy we are all desire.
I believe a glimpse of “kingdom life” happens when we’re connected to the resources we need to live life to the fullest. And I believe that as a woman, it is a great privilege to link arms with those around me so that every woman receives the opportunity to be seen, known, loved, and cared for.
Wherever you fit into this story, may you be encouraged: the best relationships—the most worthwhile ones—are always a little inconvenient at first.