“We are all connected.” Gracia’s Story
Meet Gracia. She is a mother, has a stable job and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English from her native Bangladesh.
She’s also a survivor of domestic violence.
Gracia fled to the U.S. from Bangladesh with her beautiful daughter Stella two years ago to escape her abuser and then-husband. They moved straight into a homeless shelter for survivors, but Gracia knew that this could only be a temporary measure; she had a daughter to provide for and needed to find her the best environment possible for her to flourish. They soon moved into an apartment and felt for the first time that things were looking up.
However, undocumented and with no family in the area, it was difficult for Gracia plot out her next steps. That’s when Gracia heard about LIFT. She attended her first appointment at our office and was matched with LIFT Advocate Jason. Together they set out to address her short-term and long-term goals. Immediate needs were taken care of first – health care paperwork, school for her daughter and access to public transportation. Then came the job search. Jason worked with Gracia on practicing interview skills as well as building her resume and cover letter. They also managed to secure professional clothing for the interview. Soon Gracia landed a job in retail.
A few months later, Gracia returned to LIFT after she heard about our new financial coaching program. This time Jason helped Gracia with education on savings accounts, credit cards and credit scores. Given that Gracia moved to the United States from another country, she had no established credit rating and needed basic information about the importance of good credit. Unfortunately, like for so many LIFT members, real life can get in the way of long-term planning. This summer Gracia found herself without child care. Gracia knew that if she lost her job, she’d have to start all over again. If she didn’t find a solution, she was at risk of heading into a downward spiral of unemployment, missed rental payments and potential homelessness.
Enter LIFT’s Member2Member program (M2M). M2M delivers goods and services from those who are well-connected to those who could use a helping hand to overcome some shaky ground moments. To date, this network has passed on almost $9,000 in cash or in-kind donations directly to members in their time of need. After hearing of Gracia’s story, LIFT asked this network to provide her with $800 to cover child care for the remainder of summer. The M2M network responded immediately. In less than 24 hours, Gracia’s request was entirely covered. When Gracia received the news, she was overwhelmed.
“I’ve faced so many problems. This helps me move forward. As a parent, I can say that these people have a big heart,” she said. “These kind people, they have goals and dreams too, and I want every success for them in their lives.”
Now that Gracia can continue working and feeling secure knowing that her daughter is being well taken care of, she will have the bandwidth to focus on her long-term goals – to enter the teaching field and buy a home for Stella and herself.
LIFT thanks everyone in the M2M network who contributed to Gracia’s cause! Gracia put it best herself – “There is help for people who can’t access resources. We are all connected.”
Want to be part of the M2M network? Click here!
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