BAKERSFIELD, Calif — A boutique in downtown Bakersfield has a mission to help those who were previously struggling with addiction, allowing them to gain job skills to help them with their future.
“I was desperate to change my life and I knew that I needed a new start, and for my kid's sake, they deserve better,” said Aujanae Reese, an employee at Encore Boutique.
Reese is a resident at The Mission at Kern County’s addiction recovery program and is now is a part-time employee at the Encore Boutique. But, Encore is more than a boutique. It gives people like Reese a chance at change.
“Being able to have a second chance to change my life,” Reese said.
The boutique is a donation-based store that sells high-end used clothing and is a part of The Mission at Kern County. The boutique offers both men and women in the recovery program an opportunity to build and renew their skills at the store before they graduate from the program.
“We found in our experience that the people that are in our recovery programs, getting sober, getting clean, is just really half of the battle,” Catherine Skow, Retail Operations at Encore Boutique, said.
Aujanae is in phase two of the recovery program. Phase one is a total of 12 months when residents can volunteer at the store, while phase 2 is 6 months, and the residents can get paid for part-time work.
“If you are not prepared to assimilate into society after you graduate, there is a good chance that you are not going to be successful,” Skow said.
Recovery residents during this time work on their skills such as communication, customer service, and organization.
“It’s an honor to be able to work in this type of atmosphere where I can greet customers and learn something new every day," Reese said.
Aujanae will officially graduate from the recovery program in April, but until then she is working towards her future and her family.
“I just want to be a better mother for my children, and a better person for myself,” Reese said.