A small group of women from Freetown and Meade Village started learning about day care four months ago, determined to start their own businesses, but unsure of what to do.
One lady rarely left her own home.
Another was incredibly shy.
Another was trying to complete an autobiography and searching for a good way to end her book.
Yesterday, the seven women completed the first step toward becoming entrepreneurs, through a county program run by the Department of Social Services. By the end of November, they will be running child-care centers out of their homes.
Not only will they be helping themselves by trying to break free of public assistance, they will be giving other single parents an opportunity to seek work without worrying about leaving their children alone.
"My own children have changed," said Sheryl Hight, who lives in Freetown and has used the information she learned through the course with her two children.
"They have completely turned around," she said. "If this can help my children this much, I can imagine what it will do for others."
The program started four months ago as a way of helping public housing residents become self-sufficient. Seven women -- four from Freetown and three from Meade Village -- signed up for the course, taught by faculty from Anne Arundel Community College.
"This is the first step for the start of what will be a new phase in their lives," said Sandra Chapman, a housing authority worker who coordinated the program.
County officials said more career training efforts will be started in the near future, probably involving computer work.
Those who took the day-care course said they wanted to help themselves and their community.
"I always wanted to be a child-care provider," said Venus Cromwell, who lives in Meade Village and didn't like to leave her home.
"I think this will be a good idea."
Joan Day, whom Ms. Chapman predicted would be "one of the successes to come out of public housing," said she simply loves kids. She has five, including three who live at home.
"I get along with all the kids in my neighborhood," she said.
Bertha Cager, who lives in Freetown, ran a child-care center in her home in Germany while her husband was in the Army. "This is very important to me," she said. "I want to start a business or a company one day."
Ms. Hight said she has nearly completed her autobiography. Starting a day-care center, she said, could provide an ending.
"I am real excited about it," she said. "I didn't know what I was going to do.
"I was real confused. I know this isn't a big career to a lot of people, but it is to me."