The Power of Coaching In New York: Mariela’s Story

By LIFT on November 15, 2019

Categories: Financial Strength, First Person Perspective, Our Work, Real Stories


Like most moms, Mariela’s got big dreams for her family. Her two daughters want to be a doctor and a dentist when they grow up, and her son Sebastian loves dinosaurs, so it looks like paleontology is in his future. She wants her family to be safe, healthy, financially secure – all reasonable (and not to mention, realistic) goals to have for one’s family. But like too many of the mothers we partner with at LIFT, the journey to Mariela’s dreams has been bogged down by the lack of support she needs to turn those dreams into a reality.

Mariela first heard about LIFT through a workshop our New York team hosted at Sheltering Arms-Pauls House in the Bronx. She learned of our free services for parents looking to build a better future for their families and came to our offices with big goals in mind. She wanted to find a job to help her husband support their family, reduce her credit card debt, go back to school, and find good schooling opportunities for her little ones.

From her very first day at LIFT, Mariela felt welcomed. Her first coach, and her current coach Gerda, empathized with the unique challenges she faced as an immigrant living in the U.S. “It feels like home here. I know I’m working with a coach, but I feel like I’m just talking to a friend.”

The obstacles she faced around her family goals were compounded with issues of her then immigration status, so her coach advised her to start by taking small steps toward those big goals. That same night, she went home and researched schools and jobs she would be interested in, so that she and her coach could then get to work on applying.

So, how far has Mariela come since joining LIFT’s program? For starters, she’s cut her debt by more than 50 percent. Through work with our partners at Capital One, Mariela has learned better money habits when it comes to managing her debt and negotiating with credit card companies. Working with Gerda also helped Mariela power-up her resume, which led to a job that pays a living wage!

But it doesn’t stop there – Mariela found both good childcare and a good school for her youngest son Sebastian, and is now back in school too, working toward completing her own education.

When we asked Mariela what made her experience with LIFT unique compared to other organizations she has worked with, she told us it was all about the support we provide for our parents. A little something at LIFT that we call “love.”

“If I could recommend this program to everyone, I would. LIFT has helped me in many ways. Not just by preparing me for job interviews or connecting me to resources, but also in the ways that I think about myself.

You have someone constantly reminding you that ‘you got this.’ I used to tell Gerda I would want to just give up, and she would always tell me no. That’s why I’m here. I think we all need someone in our ear reminding us that ‘we got this,’ and I think a lot of other parents just don’t have that support.

It’s like when I used to be on the track team. Whenever I was falling behind, there was always someone there pushing me forward to keep going. My coach would tell me ‘don’t stop, you’ve got just one more mile,’ and no matter how hard it got, he was there pushing me forward. And that’s how it feels at LIFT. It’s like I’m back on the track team, and my LIFT coaches are there pushing me forward, reminding me that the finish line is right ahead of me.”

Through her partnership with her coach Gerda, Mariela has learned that no dream is impossible – smalls steps toward big goals make anything achievable. Her next set of goals at LIFT include exploring a degree in pharmacy and learning more about purchasing a home so that her family can live in a safer community. We’re proud to help parents like Mariela make it past the finish line, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her.