When Vanessa first came to Hope Builders, she was afraid—years of failure and disappointment had taken their toll.
Right after high school, Vanessa found out that she was pregnant. After getting married, Vanessa and her new husband, Kevin, rented a room in a home shared by five other families. It was all they could afford on their meager income—Vanessa worked part-time in retail and Kevin, who has a criminal record, worked odd jobs for his uncle.
Vanessa recalls feeling discouraged, “I grew up poor. I didn’t want my children to grow up like that. I just didn’t know where to go.”
Vanessa and Kevin struggled. They had another kid. Soon after the new baby’s arrival, things started to unravel. They couldn’t pay rent and were evicted. Kevin started partying more frequently and soon got in trouble again. Over the next few years, he cycled in and out of jail, leaving Vanessa to provide for their children.
At this point, Vanessa looked around and realized that, if she really wanted a better life for her kids, then she needed to do something about it.
There are 43,000 young people, like Vanessa, in Orange County. On average, each young person, who is unemployed and out of school, costs taxpayers $51,350 annually. At a time when local employers can’t find enough qualified workers to meet their needs, Hope Builders bridges this gap, making it possible to move these same youth out of poverty and into the workforce.
The young people who come to Hope Builders want to work, they just don’t know where to start. Hope Builders equips youth with the skills essential for jumpstarting their careers so that 2, 10 and 20 years later they remain successful.
Vanessa learned about Hope Builders from the staff at the transitional housing program where she lived. She enrolled in our Business Applications program, offered in partnership with Santa Ana College. She liked the idea of being able to earn some college credits.
Vanessa took advantage of everything that Hope Builders has to offer. She attended tutoring sessions, participated in life skills classes and met regularly with her case manager, who, says Vanessa, “was the first person in my life who ever believed in me.”
Hope Builders helped Vanessa get a job as a receptionist at a local company. She earned $12.50 per hour. This was Vanessa’s first professional job. We kept in touch with her, making sure she had the support she needed to keep the job. After about 8 months, Vanessa knew that she was ready for more responsibility. Her case manager encouraged her to apply for another position within her company. Vanessa is now working as an administrative assistant, earning $35,000 annually, with full benefits!
Vanessa’s story illustrates Hope Builders’ commitment to helping youth achieve enduring success. We want our youth to get and keep jobs that offer opportunities for a stable career.
Vanessa’s story also shows that by investing in one person, Hope Builders helps transform an entire family. Today, Vanessa is raising her children in a much more stable environment than two years ago.
As Hope Builders grows, we expect to see the impact of our work not only on individuals and families, but on entire communities.
Won’t you join us to help transform individuals, transform families and, ultimately transform communities?
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