OUR STORIES / Participants

She Made the Impossible Possible

For years Sunflower thought going back to school to get a better job was impossible. In between raising kids and working 60 hours a week cleaning houses and clerking at a gas station, how could she ever find the time or the money? But when a difficult pregnancy forced her into bedrest and she could no longer work long hours, she knew this was the time to get her GED and start online college classes. When her baby was born, she continued her college education and enrolled in EFAA’s Internships to Careers for Motivated Parents program to begin gaining new professional experience, too.

“I feel incredibly successful because I have achieved so much in such a short time,” said Sunflower. “I am working toward a different financial future and I feel so much better about myself – so proud. The support and encouragement I’ve gotten from EFAA has really helped. I’ll be honest, there were days I wanted to quit and go back to work, but I powered through and every day it got easier to navigate work, my classes and a new baby. I had incredible people pushing me forward and telling me I could achieve my goals. Now, I am the one inspiring my friends to go back to school. I tell them that nothing is impossible. You just have to work toward your goals and take it one day at a time.”

Sunflower successfully finished one internship as an administrative assistant at a nonprofit and quickly applied for a second internship working in the legal department at a safe house. These experiences, combined with the encouragement she received from her EFAA case manager, inspired her to change her college major from business management to social work.

“Hearing the stories about what people have been through in their journey of domestic violence – especially women with children – made me want to become a support system to others who are trying to get back on their feet. They are really in need of the same kind of encouragement I got from EFAA. I said to myself ‘I literally just did this. If I can help someone through their situation of hardship then I can give back the support I received.’”

Based on the experiences and resources that were most powerful to her while working toward self-sufficiency, Sunflower has a lot to share with others who are building up from poverty.

“First, it is so important to ask for the help you need. I had a lot of trouble asking for and accepting it, but I soon learned that help comes in the form of finding out about different programs. In the end, I was the one who was responsible for doing the hard work to be successful in the programs. It feels so empowering when you are in control of your own success, rather than just being helped.”

Sunflower will soon begin working in a career-track position and leave behind low-wage jobs that provide no potential for financial mobility. The impact this will have on her and her family can make an enormous difference in ending the cycle of poverty.