October is a special month for Dee Keeney, of Sedalia. One year ago, at age 47, she began a journey into a new life. Described as broken a year ago, Keeney has faced her difficulties head-on and over the course of 12 months she’s found faith, strength and a job.
She plans to celebrate the beginnings of a new life from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Antioch Fellowship Church, where she will tell her story.
“It took me 47 years to have this amazing, awesome life,” Keeney, now 48, said Wednesday. “I’m so blessed and thankful, we tend to want to run the show, and we don’t. We don’t drive the bus, He does. He’s in charge, not us.”
Keeney began her journey at The Embassy for women last year. The Embassy is a faith-based nonprofit organization restoration ministry. There are two homes, one for men, located at 322 W. Seventh St., and one for women, located at 602 S. Moniteau Ave. Since the ministry’s inception in 2011 it has ministered to 300 men and many women also.
When she first arrived at the home Oct. 25, 2015, Ben Embree, president for The Embassy, said she kept her head down and wouldn’t look anyone in the eyes.
“I always wore my hood over my head,” Keeney said. “I was very withdrawn and was broken and lost, confused. I didn’t have any goals.”
For years Keeney spent time living with different relatives or friends, never having a place to call her own. After staying with one relative, she was asked to leave. Having nowhere to go she approached The Embassy.
“You know, some people come there from jail or prison or another program or something like that, but I came in off the streets,” she noted.
Keeney spent eight months living at The Embassy, and began transforming her life. She now works at Wendy’s where she works the front register and customers greet her by name.
She noted when she arrived at The Embassy she was unaware it was a faith-based program.
“I’m so thankful, because you can only go two ways,” Keeney said. “Forward or backward, and I’m going forward.”
When she first arrived, she said she was overwhelmed.
“I’m thinking ‘how am I going to do all of this, I have no idea about anything,’” she said. “I didn’t even know how to look up anything in the Bible. I was clueless.”
The Embassy Women’s Ministry Manager Anna Snow was instrumental in helping Keeney through the journey of finding her potential.
“She was so very patient and kind with me,” Keeney said. “Now that I’m on the outside looking in, it’s pretty good.”
Keeney gave back to the community through service projects, and afterward she was encouraged to look for a job. Although she didn’t expect to work at a fast-food restaurant, she feels it was all in God’s plan.
“I love my job,” she said. “A lot of people say ‘I’m not working for no minimum wage.’ I don’t think that’s what it’s about. After 15 or 20 years I got my driver’s license back, I have a stable home now and I work.
“I’ve been at Wendy’s for almost a year now,” she added. “I try my best to make time to go back to the women’s Embassy and stay connected with them. I am on the ministry team now. I love my life today and I wouldn’t change it for anyone or anything.”
On Thursday, Oct. 20, Keeney was one of six tour guides for an open house at The Embassy. She was nervous at first but soon calmed as people arrived. In all, 81 people toured the women’s home and 70 toured the men’s.
Keeney has a plan in place to help other women who may not realize they can rise above their circumstances.
“We have to remember where we came from,” she noted. “I didn’t go in there like I am today.”
She and her companion Carl McCallum are in the beginning stages of starting a program called “Fresh Start is the Final Step” that will help people become self-sufficient.
“We’re trying to connect with people and partner up with people,” she said.
Keeney will speak during “My Spiritual Journey One Year Celebration” commemorating the one-year anniversary of her life-changing transformation Sunday.
“(It will celebrate) my life past, present and now, and everybody that’s been on my journey with me,” she said.
“My Spiritual Journey One Year Celebration” will be hosted from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Antioch Fellowship Church, 507 W. 24th St. All are welcome to attend.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.