Shawna Ruby had pretty much hit rock bottom.
After a divorce, the mother of three from Emmitsburg struggled to make ends meet. Her power had been shut off, and she didn’t have enough money for food.
“I was drowning,” she said.
After getting help from several area nonprofit organizations just to get back on her feet, Ruby knew she needed more.
That’s when she found Woman to Woman Mentoring.
“Once I got settled, it was about growing my dreams,” Ruby said. “I think when I came into [the program], I didn’t have a direction I was headed.”
Woman to Woman Mentoring is a Frederick-based organization that has been around for a decade. Their mission statement highlights guidance, support and community connections.
“It’s one-to-one mentoring,” said Tonya Hatosy-Stier, the executive director. “Once you’ve got your baseline and you’re ready to take that next step ... Woman to Woman Mentoring helps you take that next step.”
So far, about 380 women in Frederick County have gone through the six-month program.
Right now, Ruby calls her 10-acre farm more of a hobby. She raises some animals but doesn’t have the space for that to be sustainable. Eventually, she hopes to turn her property into a plant-based operation.
Ruby said she never thought she could get to the point where she could afford to go to school. But now, that’s exactly what she’s doing.
While continuing to work as a manicurist, Ruby is enrolled in an online college program where she is learning about herbal medicine.
With all the juggling that she’s doing between caring for her children, her job and her education, Ruby said the mentoring program has helped keep her grounded.
Woman to Woman Mentoring is one of the 32 nonprofits that are part of the 2019 Unity Campaign run by the United Way of Frederick County. The campaign began in 2014 to “fill the gaps” in nonprofit funding, building on previous campaigns such as Frederick 48 and The Frederick News-Post’s Season of Hope, according to the United Way’s website. Until 2017, it was hosted through The Community Foundation of Frederick County. The News-Post is an in-kind sponsor of the campaign.
Kim Lenta, who has been with the program for about five years, served as Ruby’s mentor.
“I meet them where they’re at and help clarify what their goals are,” Lenta said. “I firmly believe you need an accountability partner.”
Lenta shared several success stories when talking about other women she’s mentored.
“It’s important for me to have these young ladies believe in themselves,” she said. “Every one of them has unique talents. ... It’s just amazing.”
But the program is about more than just providing a mentor, Hatosy-Stier and Lenta said.
They offer workshops on a number of topics including time management and building relationships.
With Woman to Woman, “there’s nothing too big or too small. It’s whatever you need,” Ruby said.
“In order to grow, you have to connect with people [who are] outside your circle. ... These are tools I’ll keep using.”