Some say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” That statement couldn’t be truer in my case. To see me today, one could never imagine the journey I have been on to get here.
Four years ago, I had a job, a secure place to live and my third child. As the economy took a downturn so did life as I knew it. Like many others, I found myself unemployed due to a layoff. Also like many others, I found myself without a stable home for my children. With the help of family and other non-profit agencies in the area, my children and I were able to survive, but still no closer to being self-sufficient.
When my family and I were accepted into the program with South County Outreach, I was in a bad place. I still hadn’t been able to secure a stable job or home for my children. I’d lost my confidence and felt like a failure.
In my first meetings with my case worker, we hit the ground running. She started me on a budget and assessed what the major stumbling blocks were in my path to success. Since I’d been out of the workforce for a few years, she helped reconnect me with a wonderful woman whom I had the pleasure of working with in the past, to help me get back on track.
For the next month I attended career workshops that covered every aspect of job hunting from how to put together a resume to what to wear to the interview. I also had weekly meetings with my case worker and we discussed my progress and worked on my budget. She helped me with everything from meal planning to save on groceries to building better relationships with my children.
Along with the weekly meetings, there were also the Thursday night group meetings. These were special times where I could be withothers who were in the same position I was in and knew exactly how I felt. It was a safe place where we could support one another and not be judged or embarrassed.
The group nights were also very informative where volunteers would come and give presentations on things like budgeting, credit repair, stress and meditation, and a host of other topics that were geared toward helping us on our way to becoming self-sufficient. It took a little while for things to really start moving, but when they did; it was a 360° turnaround.
After a great deal of searching, applying and interviewing I landed a part-time job with the U.S. Postal Service and after a six-year wait, was also finally awarded Section 8 Housing through the Orange County Housing Authority. For the first time in four years I could breathe a sigh of relief and felt like things were going to be OK. I had a job, housing and a great support system to help me along the way.
A few months after I began working at the Post Office, I received a call with a wonderful opportunity to rejoin the company I was laid off from previously. After much praying, soul-searching and talking it over with my counselor, I decided to accept the position.
I cannot put into words what being a part of this program has meant to me and my family. The support we received from the staff and volunteers is immeasurable. This program saved my life. I am truly grateful for the staff and volunteers at South County Outreach. I can truly say that my children and I are happier than we have been in a long time. I have my confidence back, a great job, and a place to call home. I can smile again, which is something I haven’t done in a while.
Being able to stand on my own is both exciting and scary, but I know that I will be successful because I was given the tools I need to ensure that I remain self-sufficient. I thank the staff and volunteers who work for South County Outreach for touching the lives of so many, including me, and that the doors stay open so that they may help others who are in need.