Doretha Hicks didn’t start out to establish a ministry. She simply had a closet full of clothes and the business background to help other women.
However, the word spread quickly around Marshall that she had helped others get jobs and pursue their dreams. Soon, women were lined up outside her door at work, seeking help.
Donna Osby was just one example of the unique way Hicks listens and then encourages women.
Osby moved to East Texas after her husband passed away, and although she had some family in the area, she didn’t know where to begin to build a new life.
“I went looking for a job,” Osby says. Instead, she found a fast friend and “sister.”
Osby landed her first Texas job as a temp when the ministry, East Texas Help, got so busy that director Hicks needed help herself.
“I was so amazed when I saw all the women coming into her ministry. I could see her heart was pure in it,” Osby says.
Osby began tagging along to listen when Hicks spoke to groups about ways they could bless others and teach women to succeed at work. Soon, like so many ET Help volunteers, Osby was hooked on seeing others succeed, putting her own business background to good use, too.
“I jumped right in.”
For Hicks and the other ET Help volunteers, success is no surprise; it is a given. Helping women succeed in the workplace also has a ripple effect of positive impact on families, the community and the region.
East Texas Help’s mission is to alleviate the underlying causes of poverty, enable all participants to reach their full potential and become more productive citizens of our extremely diverse society, according to www.easttexashelp.org.
Hicks laughs when she considers how she began by giving women the clothes off her back, literally. With a closet full of professional clothing from her own career, she simply began to share her clothes and a little bit more.
“Some people need a little help because they really don’t know how to put things together,” she explains, tenderly telling of a woman who showed up at her doorstep in desperation.
The young woman had been searching for a job all morning and for days before.
“By the time she found me, she had been living out of her car for about two weeks” dues to a domestic violence situation,” Hicks says.
Hicks took one look at the young lady and knew that with a little encouragement and a few new accessories, she would be hired.
Before the day was over, the young lady had a job.
Armed with good questions, the ET Help coaching process encourages them to think about what their life could look like.
Where are you going? What are you looking for? What do you want to do in your life?
“Most of the time, no one has ever asked them,” she says.
After so many experiences and years of doing it, Hicks has developed a five-stage approach to coach women: career self-assessment, career options, career planning, job search and excelling at your job.
Once a woman gets a job, keeping it by excelling is crucial, she emphasizes. Women need to recognize that keeping their job is just as important as finding it, so they don’t have to start over the whole process.
Hicks credits Eddie, her husband of six years, with encouraging her in the ministry all along the way. In fact, with so much happening spontaneously, he frequently cooks meals for whoever happens to be around at the moment, she says with a happy grin.
Incredibly, all has been accomplished without a single appeal for money. People are quick to offer help, so appeals are not necessary, she says.
As for what the future holds for the ministry, Hicks stays flexible.
“One day, I would like to have an East Texas resource center,” she says with a gentle voice. “I am praying that God will provide a building.”
In the meantime, women are getting the encouragement and training they need to join the work force, making productive decisions and succeeding in ways they never expected. New volunteers and friends show up daily to help, too. For Hicks, each and every time their efforts pay off in someone else’s success, she feels blessed, too.
Since her own job takes her out and about in the community, she frequently walks past businesses where her women are thriving.
“A few words can change lives,” Hicks says. “I am just so blessed that God allows me to actually see the change.”