Volunteer Focus

by Jane Gilman

Her bitter experience with abandonment and sexual abuse led Wendy Gladney on a path to forgiveness. When Wendy was three and half years old, her mother left her. She was brought up by her grandmother and the father who sexually abused her. It took 13 years for Wendy to be able to forgive him and move on. She developed strategies for healing that allowed her to break down the walls of hurt and pain and eventually learn how to forgive.

Now a wife and mother of two, Wendy began a program in 1999 to empower young women through forgiveness, called Forgiving For Living, Inc.

The program reaches out to girls ages 13 to 18, to feel confident and secure about themselves. “I want to provide them with mentoring and life skills,” Wendy says. Participants are recruited through referrals and outreach to schools.

Forgiving For Living has several programs. There is a core group at Jordan Downs Housing Project where the girls meet monthly in the community center. In other locations, the program holds classes, workshops and conferences.

Girls are able to turn their lives around through FFL. Wendy recalls a young lady who was contemplating suicide, but instead finished high school and is looking forward to attending college.

Wendy has written two books. Her first, Healing Without Hate: How to Forgive to Live, provides strategies to overcome obstacles and find personal fulfillment. The topic of forgiveness is also at the center of Wendy’s second book, The Preacher’s Daughter: A Memory. Wendy’s success with both books has sent her on many speaking engagements.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, 27th district, recently selected her to be one of Chu’s “2013 Women of Distinction.”

The agency’s annual awards and fundraiser luncheon was held in April at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the agency recognized community leaders and philanthropists.

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