Kellie #SuccessBells

June 1, 2016

Kellie found a new life and a new community at The Giving Keys. Scroll all the way down to watch a video about her inspirational story.

A prison with no walls is what Charles Dickens called loneliness. Not only was Kellie Williams trapped within these figurative confines, she also spent years of her life behind real bars.

The sense of being disconnected had always haunted Kellie, even when surrounded by friends and family. After more than two decades of running on empty and serving time in jail, Kellie came to Chrysalis with the determination to change her life and learn how to navigate a new pathway to self-sufficiency.

The oldest of three, Kellie moved to South Central Los Angeles from Tennessee with her family as a child. Her father was an electrician with the Department of Water and Power and her mother cleaned homes for the city’s elite. In the beginning, her family life was stable, but for Kellie, internal struggles with her weight and self-esteem surfaced as she began junior high. In an attempt to fit in and to fill the void she felt inside, Kellie began to steal. She took items such as lip gloss to help her change the reflection she saw in the mirror. Sometimes she would use what she stole as gifts for friends that she hoped to impress. This cycle would lead to her transferring to four junior high schools, each time her self-worth diminishing and her opportunity to find a sense of community fractured further.

In high school, Kellie joined a few clubs and the drill team, but she also continued to steal. She began to skip school on a regular basis and eventually dropped out. But the world outside of school was just as lonely. Then, one day, she saw what she thought was a way into a new group of friends. A few people invited her into a room where they were smoking crack. Her boyfriend was also using and soon the young couple not only shared an addiction but a baby, too.

At 19, Kellie became a mother, and her family initially rallied around her to help care for her new baby girl. But behind the scenes, the core of the family was falling apart. By the time her daughter turned 9-months-old, Kellie’s parents announced they were separating. She remembers running after her father’s truck as he drove away with her younger brother in tow, and in her devastation, she soon relapsed into her drug addiction.

The patterns of theft and substance abuse repeated themselves over and over again throughout the next two decades. But material possessions and substances never provided her with true joy, and she still felt out of place as she floated through life.

The last time she went to jail, she looked around and saw young girls and aging women with life sentences. She saw where she had begun and where she was going to end up. Kellie knew she didn’t want to live the rest of her life like this, so she walked out of jail and straight into Chrysalis. She believed that getting back to work was the key to a sustainable path to change.

By attending Chrysalis’ Job Prep courses and working closely with her Employment Specialist, Kellie landed a temporary job as a front desk clerk. Soon after, she received a call from Chrysalis about an opportunity to interview with The Giving Keys.

Kellie aced the interview and was hired on full-time after demonstrating her great work ethic. Since starting in 2013, she has been steadily promoted and is now a Fulfillment Captain, running a team that processes The Giving Keys’ e-commerce and retail orders.

At her job, Kellie is always the first to volunteer for outreach projects and special events. Her laugh is easily recognized by anyone walking through the door. She finally has a community and a purpose… and it all started with a job!

At the 15th Annual Butterfly Ball, Chrysalis was proud to celebrate Kellie and her courageous spirit. Now that you’ve read her story, please watch and share this inspirational video!


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