The Power Of Possibility: Irma’s Story

By LIFT on November 20, 2018

Categories: Our Work, Real Stories

How do we describe LIFT-Los Angeles member Irma? Bright. Joyful. Positive. Inspiring. Her attitude is infectious, her resolve resilient. In fact: before we could even start our interview, Irma insisted on taking a moment to thank LIFT for helping her and her family find a better way. Her belief in her family – and in her own power as a mother – tells us that her next chapter will be the best one yet.

LIFT: Irma, thank you for your kind words. Can you tell us about your first time at LIFT-Los Angeles? I remember you came to explore Magnolia Place (the community center where LIFT-Los Angeles operates).

Irma: I did! I started at St. John’s (one of LIFT’s neighbors at Magnolia Place) and they told me they provided medical services. Then, I went to Union Bank, which at the time was closed, and that’s when I stumbled upon LIFT. I remember being drawn in by LIFT’s bright logo and office colors. However, on that day you guys were closed.

But you know, what made the difference is that the coach who was at your office on that day spoke to me, and took the time not only to tell me more about the program, but also to encourage me to come back on Monday instead of just saying “oh, we’re closed.”

At my very first meeting, my LIFT coach asked me me:

“What is your purpose for being here?”

“Well, I guess I just need some help.”

My goals weren’t clear to me yet because I guess many of us parents may come lost, looking to find ourselves or discover our goals. I didn’t realize that in order to make a better life for my family, I needed to think about what my goals were. That vision – that’s what LIFT gave me.

LIFT: How did your coach help you start thinking about goals and learning more about yourself?

Irma: Well, my coach started by getting to know me. Where I’m from; what I like; what I enjoy doing; what I enjoy with my kids; if I want to work; did I want to stay home? Questions no one ever asked me that really made me happy because it showed that someone really cared about me and my family’s well-being. You and your coach become like family.

LIFT: It’s really important to have someone to talk to, and we find that a lot of our parents build special bonds with their coaches by getting to know each other on a personal level like that. How do you usually feel when you leave your meetings?

Irma: Pleased, happy, energized. I feel fulfilled. I actually look forward to my LIFT visits. It’s a place where I feel happy. It’s a place where I am me and I feel welcomed. Home. You get to know everybody’s names. You’re not just a client. You’re a human being, treated like a human being.

LIFT: How is that experience different from other organizations you have gone to that were maybe doing similar work with families?

Irma: They are way, way, way different. When you go to some programs, you just write your name down, sit, wait, meet and leave. And that’s it. LIFT is completely different.

LIFT is more than that. There is warmth and humanity and that’s the difference. You’re not treated like a client. You’re treated like a human being while the coaches help you become the best person you want to be. I am thankful for LIFT because they will always help you with what you need. They’re going to help you without judgment.

LIFT: That’s wonderful. Can you give us an example about a time where LIFT made you feel that way?

Irma: Yes! One of my favorite LIFT memories is the Mother’s Day event you all did for us. It was just for moms and it taught us interview skills like how to dress for success and how to ask the right questions in interviews, and even had makeovers for the moms so that we could feel pampered and cared for. You’re always thinking as a mom, “when will I have time for me?” But LIFT reminds me how important that is. I need to take care of myself if I want to take care of my children, and that’s what I plan to do. The same way LIFT made me feel is how I want to make others feel.

LIFT: Now with all that being said, what are some of the dreams you have for your family’s future? What is your family’s next chapter?

Irma: Right now, I want us to be happy and financially independent. My coach is teaching me all about budgeting, credit and creating a plan for the future so that I can buy a home. I want my children to go to a good, safe school and I want to be a role model and a leader in my community for them. I want to empower women and teach them, like LIFT taught me, that they can have goals and dreams too. So many of us think all we can do is become a mother and stay at home or be co-dependent. I want to help them see that there is so much more for us out there.

This story was featured in our 2018 annual report, The Next Chapter. Explore the interactive, all-digital report now: