Forging A Path To Empowerment
"A crumpled up twenty dollar bill may be a little tattered but, it’s still a twenty dollar bill," Jennifer's mother would remind her now and then. The lesson being, even if life gets you down, don't ever lose sight of your self-worth.
It’s been a long journey for Jennifer to take that lesson to heart and find her path in life.
She was born and raised in the Bay Area. In her youth, tragic personal events led to continuous struggles. She found herself in an abusive relationship. The birth of her daughter Vanessa, was a blessing. “She is the light of my life,” Jennifer explains.
But even Vanessa’s “light” could not keep Jennifer’s life from spiraling out of control. It did, however, lead to change that would eventually lead Jennifer’s life in a brighter direction.
Jennifer’s mother moved to Sacramento. She cared for her granddaughter while Jennifer sorted out her life back in the Bay Area. It took some time but, Jennifer eventually made her way to Sacramento. She still had a lot of work to do to before she could properly care for herself and rejoin her family.
Jennifer's mother urged her to apply for the program at Women’s Empowerment. The Sacramento non-profit helps homeless women develop skills and confidence. With that, they can get jobs, maintain healthy lifestyles and regain homes for themselves and their children. Jennifer was accepted and began to make real change in her life.
Women's Empowerment was the right place for her. The demanding full-time program offered direction and support. It helped Jennifer set three primary goals: finish college, start a career, and reunite with her mother and daughter under one roof.
It’s been three years since Jennifer first walked through the doors at Women’s Empowerment. Since then, she has accomplished all three of her goals.
Being homeless. Having a criminal record. Suffering from depression and struggling with substance abuse. These personal issues come with a lot of societal stigma and shame. Jennifer rose above it all. She credits Women’s Empowerment, her fellow program participants, and her mother and daughter for her success.
“They call it a job readiness program, but it is so beyond that,” she shares. “It is a life readiness program.”
Jennifer graduated from community college in May 2017. Soon thereafter she found an internship which developed into a full-time career position with her current employer.
"The best part is that moving forward, I feel like I can do whatever I want. I am the boss of me and I feel like I can be successful,” Jennifer states with absolute joy and confidence.
She is on this journey for herself, but also for her daughter. Jennifer committed to changing her life to set an example for her. She wants Vanessa to know, "There will be struggles, but every day is another day to make a different choice."
Now in 8th grade, a top student and athlete with big dreams, Vanessa has received the message loud and clear. She is very proud of her mother who is a shining example of resilience and strength.
Jennifer wants to remind those facing difficult personal challenges to not lose hope. "Don't be afraid to be vocal. There is someone who will listen.”