By Coshandra Dillard
For about a year, Stephanie Haggerty, 41, pondered starting a ministry but was unsure how she’d proceed. She knew she wanted to help others, particularly women who felt they had to be silent about their problems. Haggerty, a three-time divorcee, had also experienced abuse throughout the years.
“The presence of the Lord came over me to do something but I didn’t know what to do with it,” she said.
During a sermon at her church, the pastor mentioned a “diamond in the rough” and she knew that message was for her.
Diamonds in the Rough was born in June 2015. The name is borrowed from the process of a diamond forming, undergoing extreme pressure then cut and polished to become beautiful and valuable.
Work began with a Facebook page that now garners more than 2,200 members.
The ministry, Haggerty said, has a strong, faith-based mission.
“It’s not just a social group,” she said. “It’s all about Jesus.”
Regular meetings and messages of faith on its Facebook page provide testimonies and encouragement to women struggling to balance life. The group attends or hosts conferences and community outreach initiatives such as feeding the homeless and volunteering at local nursing homes.
A primary focus within the group is to discuss issues that are stigmatized elsewhere. Relationships, financial and other problems traditionally thought of as taboo are often difficult to openly speak of, particularly in a religious setting. Haggerty wants to change that.
“Even though you don’t hear about it or talk about it, you’re not the only person going through it,” Haggerty said. “God is still with you.”
Diamonds member LaKesha Bowie noted that helping others is empowering.
“It’s very important for everyone to fellowship during difficult times, but especially women,” Bowie said. “As women we often bury our pain, disappointments and challenges because we feel no one will understand or have conditioned ourselves to deal with things on our own. Diamonds gives women the chance to see that they are not alone, they are not the only person dealing with struggles.”
A recent program, “Beyond The Lipstick,” addressed the harm that societal standards might place on women.
“Society assumes women who are married should be happy just to be married,” Haggerty said. “There are a lot of married women who still feel alone.”
Ultimately, the group seeks to pass on wisdom.
“We hope women see revelation instead of devastation,” Haggerty said. “”We want women to commit to do something other than sit and feel sorry for themselves. Learn the lessons, move on and help the next person. Just don’t keep stumbling.”
Bowie added, “There is such a blessing in lifting up other women, encouraging them to live the best life possible. Women sharing their wisdom spreading the Love of God is a beautiful thing..and that is what Diamonds in the Rough is all about.”
Joining the group had a positive impact on Bowie, a mother of four. The faith-centered camaraderie only increased her quest to do more for others.
“It has set on fire the desire within to impact the lives of others,” Bowie said.
“I joined the group initially because I wanted to support the vision of the group’s founder, Stephanie. I believed that her vision of outreach would be great for this community. I’ve learned that all it takes is a desire and willingness to serve to touch the lives of people.”
While Diamonds in the Rough began as a group for women, interest also piqued among men. Haggerty calls them “rough diamonds.”