Friday, January 4, 2013

Community Action Helps Homeless Woman Fulfill Her Dreams

Sandra had come from a broken home. She dropped out of school in the ninth grade, had an addictive lifestyle, had served time in prison, and was living on the streets. But thanks to Community Action, she completed her education, has a home and a great job where she says, "I am living my dream and it feels great!"


While applying for an assistance program, Sandra heard a speaker talk about IMPACT Community Action Agency's program Support of Self-Sufficiency (S.O.S.). This case management program helps participants create and meet goals to achieve self-sufficiency. Sandra says of the speaker, "I knew he was talking just to me. I needed a plan to get myself together. With help from my family development specialist (or case manager) at IMPACT, I was able to create an Individual Service Plan to reduce my barriers to self-sufficiency and pursue my dreams of education, housing, life-skills and having a support system."

Through meetings with her case manager, Sandra set a goal of becoming a heavy equipment operator. To do so she needed to meet certain educational requirements and acquire various certifications. To help with that goal, she enrolled in IMPACT's Re-Entry Program, which helps ex-offenders reintegrate into society, and a Workforce Development program.

With financial assistance through the programs at IMPACT, Sandra was able to get her GED, and she attended the necessary classes to receive her heavy equipment operators license. "I was the only African-American female in my class and I scored 100 percent on every test I took," Sandra said. IMPACT also helped Sandra recover her driver's license after 15 years, and paid for her union dues. "I was partnered with everyone who could help me become successful," she stated.

Sandra was able to secure a job with an apartment complex that included her housing, so she was no longer homeless, but that wasn't enough for her. She continued to pursue her dreams, progressing through her career, and now has a job with Wright Patterson Air Force Base making $35 an hour! "My family development specialist continued to help me stay focused on my dream," Sandra explained. "To me, 'Support of Self-Sufficiency' means that people don't give up on you - they empower you. It takes time and effort and help from all kinds of places to reduce your barriers. Now I live my dream every day and I will never wear anything other than my bright pink hard hat. IMPACT made me a survivor!"

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