Her Plan For Success: Maxica’s Story
Love touches everything we do at LIFT. It’s what our visitors feel when they walk through our doors, what our coaches feel when they see members achieve their goals and what our members feel when they’re reminded that LIFT has their back every step of the way. Maxica’s story is written in love. The love she has for her family, the love she found from her fellow parents and the love she found within is helping her write her next chapter.
LIFT: We’re so happy to have you with us here today, Maxica! Can you start by telling us about where you were when you discovered LIFT?
Maxica: It all started when I was diagnosed with cancer. After the treatment and therapy was over, I was told I would no longer be able to work in the homemakers program, CAN, LPN, nursing or any type of job like that because I had limited function in my left arm. I have really bad neuropathy so I can’t stand for long periods of time either. I can’t turn my arm, and with limited mobility, I needed to find a new trade.
I spent more than 16 years in the medical field and I didn’t know what else to do. So I enrolled into an online program to switch into a business-oriented field, but dealing with classes, my disability and being a parent became so overwhelming. I was so close to finishing, but I had so much to juggle all at once that it held me back.
I have four children–one who was just starting college and another who was getting ready for high school. I also take care of my father, who’s elderly and lives with diabetes. Things got to a point where I was exhausted and I knew I needed help.
My dream was to get a degree, go back to work and leave a legacy for my children to look up to. I was falling short on that and that’s when I was talking to a good friend of mine who was applying to become a LIFT member. “If you have a road block, there’s a program called LIFT.”
LIFT: So you learned about LIFT-Chicago from a fellow parent in our program. What convinced you that our program would be the right fit? Were there goals you had in mind when you came to LIFT?
Maxica: My friend and I were living in a shelter together a while back and she mentioned LIFT helped her get focused, get her things together and get back on the right path for her family. I saw her when she was falling apart, and also when she got it all back together again. I had never heard of any program like that here. I was focused on my kids for so long, that I forgot to think about myself too. LIFT makes sure that parents aren’t forgotten so that their dreams can make their kids’ dreams come true.
I had a lot of goals when I first came here. I needed help with new job skills after switching career paths. I needed help with preparing my son for college and making sure he had everything he needed. I needed help budgeting! I always dreamed of throwing big birthday parties for my kids, but I needed to learn how to budget smarter.
I needed a plan. LIFT helped me build that.
LIFT: What was your first meeting like at LIFT-Chicago?
Maxica: I was really nervous! I didn’t know what to expect. I was like, “Is it an interview?” I had no idea of what to expect. I came with all of this stuff written out and when I actually sat down with my coach, I realized it was just a casual meeting! We started by getting to know each other and with my coach asking me to tell my story. It calmed me down and I wasn’t so nervous anymore.
Then, we discussed a lot of topics. Like I said, my main focus was budgeting, what to do with the school, job skills… and they helped me out with a lot of stuff, even that first day! So instead of scheduling appointments once a month, I started scheduling them every few weeks because I needed that help–that push because I was struggling badly with so much at once.
LIFT: It sounds like you got a lot done right away! What’s been your favorite experience from your time working with LIFT thus far?
Maxica: I’ve got a few! The first was learning to make time for me. One day my coach told me, “Every word that comes out of your mouth is for your kids. You have to remember to take care of yourself too.” I felt so guilty thinking about taking time for myself, so to hear my coach tell me that I needed to made me think about it in a new way. She told me to take a nice bubble bath, or drink a pop, and that I had to remember that the same way our kids need love, we need love too.
Another was the annual LIFT-Chicago Back to School Event. It was so great! Oh, and another was a family picnic I went to. There were a lot of former and current members there and just to see the love at these events… I talked to people at the event and they told me all about the progress they were making.
I met another LIFT parent named Latanya. With LIFT, she was able to start her own massage studio and was asking me if I wanted to come in. Everybody’s progressing. We’re all like a family. We talk to each other and check in on one another.
It’s just good to see instances like that where all of us are in one space and seeing where we are on our goals and how we’re doing, so we can cheer each other up and motivate each other to get our goals done.
LIFT: It’s inspiring to hear that building relationships with other LIFT parents is motivating you to accomplish your goals. I know that you’ve accomplished a lot since you first joined LIFT.
Maxica: Oh yeah! Well, my biggest goal was not giving up on school and staying there. I am officially 12 credits away from graduating (Maxica has a 3.56 GPA!). I graduate next year in May! Also, getting my son into college and getting the kids into a new school – that was another goal I accomplished. My truck is officially paid off, so I’ve done a lot since I met my coach.
LIFT: The theme of this year’s report is “The Next Chapter.” As an organization, LIFT is going to be writing its next chapter as we approach our 20th anniversary in 2019. So Maxica, what’s your next chapter?
Maxica: The next chapter for me is graduating from school next year. Two years from now, it’ll be my older daughter transitioning to high school. Then from there, it’s making sure my son has finished college. My two little ones will also be moving through grammar school, too.
My next big goal is getting my bills in order and budgeting better so that I can have a few extra dollars for my family’s Christmas this year. My coach introduced me to resources and apps that have taught me about things like overdrafts and increasing my credit score. My kids do such a good job of motivating me, so I know I can do it.
LIFT: Last question – and this one’s a classic. Why do you LIFT, Maxica?
Maxica: I LIFT because even as a parent, I need help. Sometimes I don’t know where to get this help from or what direction to go in. LIFT helps me find the resources to accomplish the goals that I have and to be able to take care of my kids. We’ve had a better life since we joined LIFT than I ever had when I was living paycheck to paycheck, working two jobs and still not having enough just to pay bills. We didn’t get to vacation unless my siblings were paying for it and now I can actually pay for my kids, and I feel good about that. I even paid for my nieces and nephews too! I was even able to qualify for credit with LIFT’s help.
You all helping me and guiding me in the right way and letting me know there is light at the end of the tunnel – it keeps me motivated. I see the coaches coming to LIFT, and learning from the parents just as we learn from them. This is a page in your story, just like it’s a page in mine. And maybe one day I can help somebody on the other side.
This story was featured in our 2018 annual report, The Next Chapter. Explore the interactive, all-digital report now: Report.WhyWeLIFT.org
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