Couple overcomes unemployment, homelessness with help from Women of Worth

Category 26 – Original Writing – Featured Story
2nd Place

– by Emily Blackner – East County Times –

Life hasn’t been easy for Jessica Carroll and her husband Charles; in fact, the couple met at a homeless shelter where they were both staying. But thanks to the efforts of Shelia Boller and the other Women of Worth (WOW), the Carrolls have become self-sufficient and productive members of the community.

Jessica Carroll said that she heard about WOW from friends of hers. “We were staying in a hotel because Charles had lost his job and I wasn’t working because I had injured my spine. We lost our apartment because we couldn’t pay the rent, so I knew we needed some help,” she said. “Miss Shelia was actually at a WOW event when I called, so it was perfect timing.”

WOW paid for one night in the hotel and brought pizza for the Carrolls to eat, and Boller asked them to come with her to her church that Sunday.

“God is at the front of this ministry. We preach and teach the Gospel because God is the one who has it all and does it all,” Boller, WOW’s director, asserted. She began the program in 2006 after feeling called to help other women in the community achieve the success she had found.

With WOW’s help, the Carrolls were able to find suitable housing and new jobs; Jessica works at an internal medicine office where her employer is paying for her to go back to school. Charles is working at a local Qboda restaurant. He is succeeding since his work ethic has greatly improved as he has gained better communication and other life skills through WOW.

The couple has also taken a big relationship step and tied the knot, according to Jessica. “It was a small wedding, with our church family and friends, and that was just how we wanted it.”

The goal of Women of Worth is “to help all people to become whole, prosperous and victorious people, living healthy, happy and rewarding lives.” They work with many local churches and agencies to help people gain the skills, tools and self-worth they need to be able to fully support themselves in the community. They also help people develop their faith. Their projects include feeding people gathered in St. Vincent de Paul park, holding cookouts or craft days for residents of the senior apartment complex in Essex and adopting a family or two each Thanksgiving and Christmas, providing them with a meal, clothing and gifts for their children.

WOW also holds fundraisers such as crab feasts and walkathons and attends events throughout the area, including Essex Day, to get their name out and raise money. “We get a lot of donations from older people, because they feel like this is something they can still do to help when they can’t do the things they were able to as younger people. So it brings a lot of people together,” Boller noted.

They rely on the many volunteers who give generously of their time to make WOW successful. Both of the Carrolls are now enthusiastic WOW volunteers, helping to spread the word about the program and share the many ways in which it has helped them personally. Jessica is currently WOW’s secretary.

WOW meets on the second Monday of each month to discuss upcoming events and recap recently-completed ones, as well as go over the organization’s finance reports. Boller welcomes anyone to come check it out and discover ways to get involved. More information is also available at

“We are always reaching out into the community to help people,” Boller declared. “This is our community where we live, where we work. We care about the community and want it to be the best it can be.”