Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making Positive Connections: A Family Development Story

Before enrolling in Lifeline's Family Development program (the Community Action Agency for Lake County, Ohio), Stacy worried each night about how to provide for her two young daughters. She was working and going to school, but it never seemed like enough. How would she feed them? Clothe them? Would she ever feel like she could give them everything they needed?

When Stacy entered into the Family Development program she had just secured transitional housing after being homeless for a period of time. She knew it was time to make connections with others who could support her in a positive and empowering way. As a participant in the Family Development program, Stacy was assigned a Family Advocate, Michelle Mezaris. Michelle and Stacy completed a family assessment to identify the family's strengths and what areas required additional support.

From the beginning, it was clear to Michelle that Stacy and her daughters had a strong sense of connectedness and family, plus Stacy was found to be one of the most resourceful and coupon-savvy participants ever enrolled in the program.

"I was impressed with Stacy's ability to manage all of the aspects of raising two girls, plus experience the hardships of finding stable housing and earning enough income," Michelle said. But Stacy was motivated and determined to overcome her obstacles and find security and peace for her family. As a participant in the program Stacy was given emotional support as she worked on the goals she and Michelle had created for her family. They met several times per month to brainstorm new ideas, revise plans that were not effective, and share the positive experiences that are needed to stay motivated.

"I had no outside support from family," Stacy said. "Michelle validated me and my experience. I did not feel judged because of the situation I was in." Working as a team is a key advantage of the Family Development program. Stacy and Michelle worked together to challenge the old ways of thinking and created new ways to view situations that focused on the positive. As Stacy began to accomplish her goals, she began to gain self-esteem, which boosted her confidence as a woman, parent, and student.

"Working with Lifeline allowed me to pull out of the survival mode I was in and focus on something else in my life," Stacy said. For example, Lifeline assisted Stacy's family with school supplies and items to get the girls ready for a new school year. Without having to worry about that expense, Stacy was able to pay rent for the family's new apartment in a safer community - an apartment she got with the help of Lifeline's Security Deposit Assistance program.

Upon graduating from the Family Development program, Stacy was able to make progress in so many positive aspects of her life. She continued her academic successes and made stellar grades in school, improved her family's health by cooking healthier meals, enjoyed quality time and activities with her daughters, and experienced great personal growth. She discovered she was stronger than she thought and with a little help from others she could make great strides toward the life she wants for her family.

"Stacy was not able to see the strength she had within her," Michelle concluded. "I think through her experiences with Lifeline she knows that she is capable of succeeding, and has the confidence to know she has done her best."

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