Jessica will tell you that her life hasn’t been easy. At all. But since she met United Way’s Dual Generation team, it’s been very rewarding. “I’m finally proud of myself.”
The Dual Generation Initiative is an unprecedented community-wide solution that serves struggling children and families to help them find safe housing, education, childcare and employment. The goal is creating hope by removing barriers and enabling families to overcome poverty and achieve greater stability and success.
Starting out was hard for Jessica. Abused and moving from place to place was how it began. She soon became a single mother and was totally on her own.
“Even with a job, I felt like a failure. Was I doing things right? The baby cried all night. He was hungry so I skipped meals myself. I just wanted to give up,” she said. Jeremiah was two when she learned about the Dual Generation Initiative. “When Lakeshia (Bragg), United Way’s Dual Generation Systems Director, called me back, it made all the difference. I could trust in someone to guide me.”
With their help, Jessica was able to find a job; affordable, quality daycare for her son, secure her high school diploma, and earn a Child Development Association (CDA) certification. She now has her Associates degree and is working on her bachelor’s degree in teaching at Texas A&M.
But Jessica will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t just handed to her. She worked hard. She stumbled. And she faced a frightening major-life experience along the way. When Josiah was born, her second son by the same absentee father, the baby spent over two months in the neonatal intensive care unit with heart and lung complications.
“I had to quit my job. One day, Lakeshia came to watch the baby, and that day was everything to me. The people at Dual Generations would not let me fail. They taught me that I’m important, too. They walk alongside, meeting people where they’re at and navigating you to success.”
Recently approved for a home loan, Jessica continues to learn, grow and stabilize her family. “I live for my kids like nothing’s wrong—so they won’t know things are hard. But, of course, sometimes I cry behind closed doors. I came from the bottom, but I want to say from the bottom of my heart that I’ve appreciated everything the Dual Generation people have done for me.”