Trease Hodge recalls, “I felt trapped in my body, my marriage, my career and wanted to find my own path and my own voice…” At the time, she was working 6 to 7 days a week in her husband’s business. A friend had mentioned the organization Women, Work, and Community and, a few days later, Trease read about an upcoming program called Creating Your Future (CYF). She signed herself up for the training and it put her life on a new path. “One big lesson I learned.. [in CYF].. sometimes making a smart decision is to not make a change until it is safe and feasible,” Trease said. She took several additional WWC classes. “In each class, I gained confidence and knowledge. I felt felt empowered and found my voice.” Eventually, Trease was able to take all that she had learned and enroll full-time in the UMA-Bangor for the Mental Health and Human Services Bachelor’s degree program.
Also a step at a time, she has taken on leadership roles in her community: deacon at her church, member of the County Steering Committee for Penquis, member of the Board of Directors for Penquis and then member of its Governance Committee. Trease serves on these committees as the low income representative and is a voice for low-income residents of Penobscot County.
The road was neither easy nor smooth. Trease suffered a serious medical illness, stayed in a shelter for abused women, and was homeless. But looking back she can say, “It was all worth it because of where I am now…I sit around these different tables …and I speak up and use my voice, my knowledge and I make a difference. Yes, it is scary, but I do it anyway.”
The joy of all this? “Being at peace with myself, that it’s ok to be a late bloomer, and to never ever give up!”