Pastor Alonzo Johnson is a regular Bible study teacher. He grew up in a housing project in north Philadelphia, and when he heard about Page’s vision for Every Good Gift, he asked how he could help. Page asked him to join the board, and he did, though he prefers teaching the Bible studies over sitting in board meetings. “I do believe that Every Good Gift is addressing an issue that’s been long-standing, especially with minority moms,” he said. “How to do that in a way that doesn’t enable but truly helps … is a learning curve for all of us.”
Page tries to hold the women to workplace standards of communication and punctuality. Between 7:30 and 8 a.m., each must text Page to confirm she is coming and bringing her children. If she doesn’t, Page demotes her to working as a substitute for a time. Sometimes she explains to the woman that such behavior would get her fired at a normal job, but that she gets another chance. Knowing when to show grace and when to enforce standards is hard, Page said, especially when women need the money. But without the challenge, they might not develop the skills to work full time and support their children when they leave.
So far, about 50 women have worked at Every Good Gift. Page works on a salary for 50 hours a week, coordinating volunteers and employees, keeping track of supplies, and writing grants. “If I had known how hard it would be, I wouldn’t have done it,” Page said. “And there are blessings all along the way through the challenges.”
—This story has been corrected to reflect that executive director Jill Page receives a salary from Every Good Gift.