Becoming Brand New – our story through paper making

“You make beautiful things out of the dust.” 

At That Grace Restored, we collaborate with women who have been exploited in the commercial sex industry to make fine-quality hand made goods with the purpose of seeing them reach self-sufficiency and renewed personal dignity.  

Below, you will see the story of our women told in allegory through photos of the paper making process. Paper scraps that have been used and tossed aside are gathered and repurposed to make beautiful paper.  It is a new product made for a specific reason.

The paper is bound into journals or letter pressed as cards and stationary.  Each piece serves a different purpose, but all are equally valuable.  

The final product showcases the beauty of each individual piece while displaying the merit of coming together to form a whole. 

As you look through these photos, allow yourself to think about the women we serve.  Cast off by others, they are searching for affirmed worth and love. They all have gifts and personalities to offer – not just obscure faces on a street corner, but women, real people just like us. 


She is Brave

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Editor’s Note: I work as the PR and Marketing Manager at Serenity’s Steps and That Grace Restored. One of my favorite things is writing this blog, and today I get to share a story with you about one of our women with whom I have had the privilege of developing a close friendship.

I pull up to the Travelodge on Old National Highway, my windows rolled down. It’s a welcome break in the weather, sun beating down, warming the earth after an unusually cold winter in Atlanta. 

I call Her. She answers.

“Come around to the back,” She says.  I pull my car in next to the beat up Cadillac.  She runs down the stairs and we push Her extra clothes into the trunk to make room for the space heaters I’ve brought to warm up Her new house.  The heat has yet to be turned on.

I haven’t seen the house yet.  She and Her young family are moving to a three-bedroom house today, rented to Her at a good price by one of our board members.  It means the world to have space in a quiet neighborhood after sticking it out for the last 8 months in a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture and an unpredictable pregnant cousin on Old National.

She gets in the car and slams the door.  Today is a day of frustration. She vents to me about her boyfriend not wanting to leave his friends and her 5-year-old daughter complaining about changing schools as we pull onto the interstate.  She’s just trying to make a better life for them by moving.

We’re met in the school office by a no-nonsense administrative assistant who informs us that we will have to drive all the way back tomorrow to pick up withdrawal paperwork for her daughter.  Just another hitch in Her plans but we roll our eyes and laugh it off as we walk back to the car.  By now, She’s used to complications.

She texts me when I get home. “The water won’t work and I think the stove’s broken.  I hate this house.”

I know she’s reacting to how overwhelming the situation seems, but why wouldn’t she? She’s worked so hard to provide, only to be met with constant struggle.

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The next afternoon I arrive at the new house.  It’s brick faced and on a quiet street.  There’s a fenced-in yard for the kids to play.  She gets in the car with me, this time with daughter in tow to head back to the school.

We get there early so we go for ice cream. She holds her daughter on her lap and wipes the vanilla off of her face.  The love between them is evident.  As I watch them I hope one day I have a daughter that I’m bonded to like that.

We pick our way through screaming children waiting for their buses to the office, collect the papers, and take Her daughter to say goodbye to her teacher.

When we get back She gives me a tour of the house.  Still no furniture, She’s waiting on her long overdue tax return for that.  Her boyfriend and his friend sit in the living room watching TV.  Her sons rest and watch cartoons in the bedroom.

She picks up some sidewalk chalk and brings it to the driveway to draw with Her daughter.  I have to go so I tell Her I’ll talk to Her soon and ask Her to tell me if She needs anything else.

As I turn to leave She runs after me, “Ummm, you’re leaving without a hug?” She pretends to glare at me and I laugh and hug her back. 

As I pull away from the curb, I watch Her, smiling with Her family, constantly looking out for their well-being even when it means putting Herself second almost every time.  Here She is, standing in front of Her new house, away from Old National, about to start a new job.  It may not be perfect but She has persevered and made it here against all odds.

She is brave.  She is beautiful.  She is my inspiration.  



More than faces: authentic relationships in the workplace

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Today’s guest blog post was written by Angela Lerena, General Manager at That Grace Restored.  

If there is one thing Jesus taught us, it is that we cannot love from a distance. We cannot love an abstract people whom we simply view as “those people” or “them”. We can only love in relationship. To show love means to be involved in the lives of those around us.

In our case at Serenity’s Steps and That Grace Restored, we focus on authentic relationships with women working in and exiting the commercial industry. They are not faces we simply see on the street and continue to pass by; they have names and stories. My own focus is specifically on the relationships with women who come to work at That Grace Restored.

Unlike many companies and organizations, our relationships with our co-workers (women exiting the sex industry) happen both inside and outside of work. While I realize that my time with my husband is vital to our marriage, our relationships with our women are not simply something I do for work. We have their family over for dinner, just as we would our own family or friends from church.

Once I have become friends with someone, they are always going to be allowed into my home, and be able to call me when needed.  That’s what a relationship with someone looks like. It is not only a matter of business hours because to us, our women mean much more than a way to grow our business.

During business hours we work to make product and get our tasks done, but we still enjoy lunch together every day. Lunch is one of my favorite times, not because I don’t have to work, but because it is our chance to talk. I try to create a space of work where women can reflect on what is happening in their lives, listen to their own music, and focus on a task.

But lunch is the time that we can focus on the true relationship part of what we do. I share about what is going on in my life, and they can share about themselves. It is a relationship that gives and takes on both of our parts instead of being one-sided. We find these relationships give dignity to women who suffer from a lack of self-worth and appreciation.

While it is not always easy to find a balance as a manager that allows me to say it is okay to not show up to work because you need to look for a roof to keep over your head, it is the relational aspect that makes us unique and allows us to do ministry while running a business. Since most of our women start by being part of Serenity’s Steps, we strive to find a balance between operating a social enterprise, but also continuing to do ministry and strengthen the relationships started at Serenity’s Steps.

Christ showed us how to love perfectly and wholly.  It is our mission to continue to love each woman that walks through our doors more holistically and perfectly, just as He exemplified.  It is the part of my job that I cherish the most.