Advertisement

Jean named executive director at Fresh Start; uses community and love to enrich women’s lives

May 29, 2022 | 12:10 am

Updated May 31, 2022 | 1:54 pm

Photo by Ryan Richardson

Cindy Jean was driving home to Owensboro from Bowling Green a few years back when she had an epiphany. She said God spoke to her, essentially encouraging her to continue her efforts in assisting women to overcome addiction, poverty, domestic violence, and other hardships. 

The words were so clear that she immediately pulled to the emergency lane of the William H. Natcher Parkway and began jotting down notes. With few rocks left unturned, she decided it would be a 12-unit complex that provides low-cost housing that provides “community” support for women trying to find themselves in this world. 

Advertisement

From the epiphany, Jean and her team of passionate women embarked on a mission to create Fresh Start. After exponential growth and success, the nonprofit has secured the financial means for Jean to resign from Frantz and become the full-time executive director.

“This is very exciting and rewarding — it’s been an exhausting 7 years,” Jean said. “Working full-time, managing this nonprofit, and raising a family was a little much. We see positive responses from the women as we step into this new season. It feels more connected and like a family. It’s a great atmosphere of community and love.”

In 2016, Jean and company had been doing ministry at the Daviess County Detention Center, assisting women coming out of addiction for several years — and they noticed a high level of recidivism. Motivated to influence change, Jean called her team for a meeting upon her return to Owensboro to pitch the idea. 

“We began this 7 years ago with no money. We had a yard sale and raised $425, and within 3 months, we had $20,000 in donations from people that understood our heart for helping women,” she said. “We leased a building, and the landlord moved the current tenants out. The living conditions weren’t great at first, but we put a lot of work into it, making it nicer.”

Fresh Start
Photo by Ryan Richardson

Fast forward to now, and the nonprofit owns the renovated 12-unit complex and three neighboring homes to expand its mission. 

“We have 15 single-mom families that live on the property,” Jean said. “There are a lot of everyday struggles from moms coming out of domestic violence and addiction. Our atmosphere of family and love is welcoming to them.”

Jean said there is a direct correlation between low-income and negative surroundings. She shares in the clients’ struggles, as she, too, battled addiction for more than two decades and was a single mother. 

“I fought that battle and was able to come out on the other side because of my faith in Jesus,” Jean said. “We kept seeing women go through rehab and then fall back into the same patterns. We knew it was going to take something drastic to invoke change. You have to eliminate that old person and become something brand new. That’s hard to do if you’re poor or living in areas where people aren’t living that way.”

Fresh Start
Photo by Ryan Richardson

Jean and her team are proud of the community they’ve created. She said the hardships of life don’t bog down the women, referring to Fresh Start as “a village of women raising children together and helping each other.”

The group is in the midst of three major renovations, including new metal stairways, fencing, and completely gutting and re-finishing two homes. Two of the three homes were gifted to the organization, with one coming from the Keller family and accompanied by $50,000 for renovations. 

The women are required to maintain employment and be active community members. The group relies heavily on donations and grants to continue and further its operations.

To learn more about Fresh Start, visit their website here.

May 29, 2022 | 12:10 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like