Positivity & Perseverance: Millie’s Story
One of the tenants of LIFT’s program model is personal well-being – physical, mental, emotional – which we refer to as hope. Millie is hope personified. Coming to LIFT during a high-risk pregnancy, with a 12-year-old daughter and on the verge of losing her apartment was no easy feat. Compounding Millie’s stress was the fact that she and her daughter are also diabetic. Regardless, Millie persevered. Her hope, not just for her own dreams of going back to school and joining the medical field, but for her daughter to have a brighter future and her then unborn son to be born into a stable household, gave her the courage to join LIFT and turn the page to a new chapter in her life.
LIFT: Millie, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us and share your story. Why don’t we start with where you were before coming to LIFT?
Millie: Before LIFT, I was working a management job in retail. I was paying rent on my own and was receiving child support for my daughter. I was pregnant too. Things started going south when I lost my job and my daughter’s father stopped paying child support. To make matters worse, I was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy, on top of the fact that I am diabetic. Bills and rent were pilling up, and that’s when I turned to LIFT.
LIFT: How did you learn about LIFT? Can you tell us about your first time coming to our Bronx office and what your goals were?
Millie: Well, I actually learned about LIFT through a friend of mine. She told me how much you guys helped her out and that you could help me too. I was on the verge of losing my apartment. I was back and forth to court and it was putting a lot of stress on my pregnancy. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I was going to be living on the streets with my kids.
So I first came to LIFT because of my housing situation. I remember everyone being so friendly. You guys were really kind.
My coach helped connect me with free legal aid for families. She also looked into charities that would help me out with rental assistance. There were so many resources I never even knew about that my LIFT coach walked me through and connected me with.
I left feeling so hopeful. Before I came to LIFT, I didn’t know where to begin. How to go about it, how to find resources, being in and out of court and not knowing all of the legal stuff… I left LIFT with a lot of hope knowing that there is help out there and that there are people who genuinely care about my family’s situation.
What made LIFT special is that you guys are so respectful when it comes to interacting with families. A lot of my friends tell me that when they go to apply for welfare or aid, they’re treated rudely and disrespected. It’s just refreshing that LIFT has such a positive attitude toward families who are in need of help, rather than being judgmental and rude.
LIFT: We’re so glad to hear that your experience at LIFT has been so positive! Do you have any favorite LIFT memories?
Millie: You guys do a lot of events with families, and I came with my daughter to this crocheting class which was really nice. Just having families with their kids interacting. It’s really refreshing to see things like that!
LIFT: Speaking of spending time with family, we know that you spend your free time helping families out too, right?
Millie: That’s right. I volunteer at my daughter’s after school program which is at a church, and we help pick up the children from school to take them to the after school program. We serve snacks to the kids and help them with their homework.
LIFT: Paying it forward – we love that. What’s been your biggest accomplishment since joining LIFT-New York?
Millie: Having a home. My biggest accomplishment is finding a manageable way to pay my rent. I can’t describe how it feels knowing that my children will have a roof over their heads – especially when we were so close to living in a shelter, or even being homeless.
With LIFT’s help, I was able to find legal aid through Bronx Works and housing with CITYFEPS, which helped me find rental assistance so I could focus on stabilizing my family’s living situation, having a safe birth and planning for my kids’ futures.
LIFT: Millie, the theme of this year’s report is “the next chapter.” So, what’s the next chapter of your family’s story?
Millie: My next chapter with LIFT is to enroll in classes to get certified for entering the medical field. It’s always been my dream to work in a field that helps people. I’ve got my associate’s degree, so I’m halfway there. With a better paying job, I know I’ll be able to provide more support for my kids.
I want my daughter to continue doing a great job in school and become more responsible about taking her medication and checking her sugar levels! I always remind her just how important school is for her to follow her dreams. She tells me all the time that she wants to be a veterinarian, and I’m like that’s great, but you have to go to college. She wants to go to college, and I want to help her get there some day.
I LIFT because of my children; knowing that I can’t let them down and that they depend on me. What I hope to accomplish and teach my children is to never, ever give up – don’t even think about it. You can achieve your goals if you just keep trying. Keep a positive attitude, drown out the negativity and you can make your dreams come true.
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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