None of us are perfect. We all stumble and have to overcome challenges. Many of us are lucky to have a strong support system of family and friends, and the money to access the help we need. But what happens to someone facing big obstacles without the resources and knowledge they need to change their path in life? Read on to learn how one local woman, Victoria, changed her life’s story through personal determination and support from our United Way.
When Victoria was 8, she asked Santa for a home of her own. At the time, her parents were going through a divorce and her mother and siblings were living in a shelter until the divorce was finalized.
Fast forward a few years and Victoria was a teen mom, determined to give her own child a good start in life, and knew that she needed a high school diploma to build a stable future. Thanks to a local United Way grant-funded program, Victoria received home visits that helped her learn about child development and schedule regular doctor visits for her and her daughter. “It meant a lot that I had someone to count on,” Victoria says. She received the support and guidance she needed to stay in school.
After graduation from high school, Victoria juggled parenthood with working two jobs, and then attended CATEC to become a CNA. By then she was 19 and had her own apartment. But Victoria had even bigger goals for herself and applied to Habitat for Humanity to become a homeowner. Wanting to increase her career possibilities, she enrolled in PVCC’s Pharmacy Technician program and completed it within 3 months. It took a year before she found a position in the field, at the Kroger pharmacy at Rio Hill. A conversation with a customer led to a new position at the UVA Medical Center and the steady hours and income she needed for her Habitat for Humanity homeownership dream to come true. She and her daughter moved into their new home on December 23, 2009 – in time to hang stockings for her old friend, Santa Claus.
When her second daughter arrived, Victoria was concerned how she was going to pay for child care. That is when she learned about our United Way’s Child Care Scholarship program for low-income working parents. Equally as important to Victoria was that her daughter be in a good quality program that would prepare her for success in school. When her daughter started public preschool this year, our United Way has continued to provide assistance for after-school care.
In five years, Victoria would like to be either starting or finishing nursing school, with an ultimate goal of being a labor and delivery nurse. She would not be on this journey with her daughters without the help of donors like you who have supported our United Way, enabling us to make grants to the home visiting program that helped her stay in school and care for her daughter as a teen mom. Our own Child Care Scholarship program helped her continue to be self-sufficient, while her daughter got off to a great start in a quality educational child care program.
“I want to say ‘Thank you’ for helping moms like me who want to strive to do better in life,” Victoria says. “And I want other moms in my situation to know that there is always help – don’t give up.”
Our United Way has deep roots in this community. We envision a strong, healthy and vibrant community that helps people rise above challenges to reach their full potential. We focus on School Readiness, Self-Sufficiency, and Community Health so that everyone can learn, grow, and live their best lives. We can do this because of the generous support of our donors.
You can help more people like Victoria and her daughters reach their full potential. Please make a gift today.
Published by: Kim Connolly, Vice President of Community Engagement
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