At Integrity’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, we honored Eleanor Hillman as 2020’s Unsung Shero. Here is her story:
Eleanor Hillman was the recipient of this year’s Unsung Shero award, an honor which she found humbling. “You don’t actually look for accolades while you’re doing the work, but just to know that someone does see you and see the work you do makes you feel very humble.”
In 2003, Eleanor was homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. She entered The Grace Period Recovery House that provided transitional housing for women who were homeless, victims of domestic violence or seeking drug or other substance abuse treatment. The Recovery House was a program of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, where Eleanor attended church services. It was there that she met the church’s Senior Pastor Reverend Beckham. Eleanor said Reverend Beckham would sometimes come and speak during the services she attended, and that he had very encouraging words.
After Eleanor got clean from drugs and alcohol, she attended skills training at the affiliated English Avenue Resource Center and later applied for employment. Eleanor said Reverend Beckham would encourage her to go after jobs even if she felt she wasn’t qualified. “One of my jobs was at Georgia State University, and he said ‘Eleanor, go for it.’ I said “But I don’t have a degree, everybody there has a degree!’ And he said, ‘Eleanor, what God has for you is for you.’ So, I applied, and I got that job.” Eleanor went on to work at Georgia State University for 12 years.
Today, Eleanor works at Emory University as a Clinical Research Coordinator and at Empowerment Resource Center as the Outreach Coordinator. At Emory, she assists with research, recruitment and paperwork, and is known as “The Research Lady.” At Empowerment Resource Center, her main focus is going out into the community and testing people for HIV. Eleanor also helps people with other needs, such as getting clean from drugs or alcohol, by finding them the resources to get them back on their feet. As a certified phlebotomist, she also assists with drawing blood when needed at her local clinic. “I love what I do. I especially love going out into the communities doing testing, because we do a lot of testing with underserved individuals, people that don’t normally come in clinics or don’t normally leave their neighborhood. And anytime you go into underserved communities there are needs. I just see myself as going out and helping my people.”
For anyone who is considering joining Integrity or is just starting out, Eleanor advises them to hang in there, because the effort will be worth it. “Their main focus and their main goal is to see you succeed, because when you succeed, they succeed. Don’t miss your blessing, because that’s what Integrity is going to be.”