00:03 love to see people that are lost, get their lives turned around. To get on their feet, to learn how to get out there in the community and be productive and to be success stories.
00:15 Probably the largest thing that makes me happy about the job is to see that.
00:45 All right, well, Eddie thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. Why don't we just start with you telling us a little bit about your businesses so you run a couple of women's boutiques?
00:56 Yes, I have two boutiques in Destin, Florida. One's in Miramar Beach, Favori Boutique. And I've had it since 2014. I'm from Kentucky and my parents, they always had boutiques since I was like four. So it was kind of in my blood.
01:13 So as a kind of a more tourist destination or a vacation destination? Are your customers primarily residents or are they people kind of in town visiting?
01:23 I would say about 60% out of town visiting and 40% locals.
01:29 How does that manifest itself during the pandemic?
01:35 For sure. A lot of the wealthier, older women, you know, they didn't come since COVID. And so a lot of my business was hit there and people that didn't want to try on clothes as much. It's been a different it's been a different world, for sure. I think a lot of people have left the market of buying in store, and Amazon got a little more wealth for sure. Brick and mortar was hit hard. Thank God I had a second job to lean on.
02:10 Is your second job The Path of Grace?
02:12 My second job is Path of Grace.
02:14 Tell us a little bit about Path of Grace and what led you to start that.
02:18 Prior to 2006, I was I was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and more or less lived my life like an 18 year old. I came to down to Destin, Florida and went to a long term rehab here, As I started to see my life change for the better, getting off drugs and alcohol and just changing everything about myself.
02:43 As I did that, I started to desire to see other people to get the same change that I had. And then at the time, my friend who was he was starting this program for a women called Path of Grace, and he asked me to come over and be a board member of Path of Grace.
03:05 And what we're doing here is helping people to change and letting them see their self-worth. And we try to train them in different positions and teach them how to be managers instead of addicts.
03:16 What kind of is the need that you're responding to specifically within the community?
03:21 When I started with Path of Grace eleven years ago, we had five women, four residents and one house mom. And then and then, like every year, we've added some women and now we're of course, we're up to 45 and we have some graduates living, they're going to be moving into transitional homes, too.
03:41 And we're we're actually in the process of building 8 small homes to reunite mothers and children right now. So we're in the process of building, developing some, some property here as well.
03:54 I do hire people from Path of Grace, at my stores and so they have lots of opportunities down here with different jobs and opportunities. But I've hired probably like 20 people overall over the years to help 60 either temporarily or permanently from my stores.
04:15 What do you wish people and particularly employers, understood better about those that have battled or are battling addiction?
04:26 Well, I know that alcoholism and addiction doesn't discriminate, doesn't matter what color you are or how much money you have, or what kind of job you have. Anyone can have it. At the Path of Grace we see that everyone that comes in has a different story.
04:43 Is there something that you're ultimately trying to achieve? What's the ultimate objective for you?
04:48 I love seeing families reunited. That's what keeps driving me. Probably is, as I see these women and some of them haven't seen their kids for three years, for five years. What I love to see is the families restored. And then you don't just change the mom's life, you change the children's life too.
05:08 And then later on, you'll see them and they’re, like five years later, and all the little kids are living with them and they have a home and they have a good job. And they're, you know, now that are a hairdresser or now they're a manager, some of them work for the court systems, and it's just very, very rewarding to see that you made a little difference in someone's life.
05:30 A huge difference. I mean, you are having a generational impact. It isn't just about the mother, it's about that second generation as well.
05:37 Do you have any stories that stand out to you of success stories that you've seen go through the program?
05:42 Sorry, ladies, to put you on the spot. This is Kayla and Tiffany.
05:51 I'm Kayla.
05:51 Nice to meet you. Can you tell us a little bit about what the association is meant to you?
05:54 I can share a little bit. I struggled just like them, I struggled with drugs and alcohol for the better part of almost 20 years and I hadn't seen, I have three kids and I hadn't seen my children for four years. When I finally got to Path of Grace, I was homeless. My family didn't speak to me. I was pretty much by myself in the world. And almost three years now, since since go to the Path of Grace, I see all my kids on a regular basis. I have my own home, my own vehicle. I've got two great jobs. It's not only changed my life, but it's changed my children's life, my parents, my siblings. It's just changed everything for all of us.
06:39 So I came and stayed for sixteen months, and then Eddie offered me a job to give back and to start a new life. So I didn't have to go back to Atlanta because, you know, a lot of people can't go back to the area that they were partying and getting in trouble in it's just unhealthy. They gave me a fresh start like I'm supposed to give back.
06:59 When you see just a glimpse of hope in their eyes, when you give them your testimony, you see their lives transformed a little bit and you just see that they're just blossoming. It just makes it all worth it.