Like many clients that seek out the Displaced Homemaker Program (DHP), CD was referred to us through the residential domestic violence program we partner with from our host agency. Looking back to 2019 and all the changes CD faced: financial hardship, housing insecurity, divorce, having one of the lowest salaries at her occupation, were all things that impacted her physically, emotionally, and mentally. One of the main reasons CD wanted to work with us was based on her dismal salary. After working at this place for 12 years, her salary plateaued and remained lower than the more recently hired staff. Our program helped her by reflecting on previous evaluations with the employer. CD realized that perhaps a new job wasn't in order, but a raise. We worked with CD to build her confidence as well as her understanding of her rights in the workplace, so that when she asked for a raise, it was granted.
Becoming a primary custodial parent is not easy, especially when that means sharing custody with the person who victimized you. Adding on the additional stress of taking on the responsibility as a caregiver for an elderly parent as well. CD came to us with the drive to succeed, this time with a different idea as to what she needed. She already had a decently well-paying job, but wanted more for herself and her family.
CD’s job is incredibly demanding with little ability to adapt her schedule and because of that, she is sometimes unable to make important events and holidays with her family. As her child is growing older, she notices all the things she is missing out on and wants to make the change to be more present for those big moments. After seeing her many options for different fields of employment CD decided that criminal justice is her true passion and wanted to continue her career trajectory in this area.
After spending numerous sessions looking over different jobs in the area, CD decided that while there are many jobs available, too many of interest were offering a lower salary, and similar hours to the ones she currently has. With this knowledge, CD resolved to put herself back through school and obtain a degree in Criminal Justice.
CD has faced many challenges with the language barrier, specifically with writing and grammar. Being new to the United States education system, she quickly understood that there was a major difference in academia between the country she grew up in and the United States. Finding out that she would be required to write academic research papers, and with no guidance from professors or assistance from the school on how to go about this endeavor, she asked the DHP for assistance.
The Displaced Homemaker Program spent numerous sessions explaining the process and explaining how to search and understand the research papers she would need to find in order to make her own a success. And what a success it was, after weeks of anticipation, in the winter of 2022 she received an A on both papers (and both classes!).
It is through CD’s example that we learn what strength, resolve, and a passion for stability can do. When CD finishes her degree, she will be a major asset to the ever-growing field of criminal justice. CD is truly an inspiration and is excited about her future.
In 2018, TJ initially thought that this year would be a new beginning for herself and her mother. After much searching, TJ and her mother moved into an apartment in which they had stable housing and could finally stop running from place to place. A few months later, TJ’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and her life instantly became a nightmare. Before she knew it, her mother passed away on 4/18/19. During this time, TJ felt very lonely and isolated herself from the outside world. In 2020, TJ battled with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and felt that her back was up against the wall. On 2/12/22, TJ also lost her son to a drug overdose. TJ became depressed, overwhelmed, and felt that her life was falling apart. After this period, TJ decided that going back to school was her best option despite how she felt regarding her older age. However, TJ chose to face her fears because this is what her mother would want. TJ overall refused to give up. In April 2022, TJ enrolled in the Displaced Homemakers’ grant program through the CTE (Career & Technical Education) department located at RCSJ on the Cumberland campus. Despite how nervous she felt, TJ completed and received licensures for both the CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) and Phlebotomy Technician programs this year. Today, she is working full-time as both a CNA and phlebotomist. Although she has experienced many personal wins and losses in life, TJ is overall grateful for the support from the CTE department because they didn’t give up on assisting her with future career endeavors. As of now, TJ is very career motivated, has better communication skills, and her confidence has increased for the better. TJ should receive this award because she wants to share her powerful life story with others to inspire them to push toward their career goals. TJ also considers herself to be her own inspiration, as well.
Center for People in Transition recognized CO. Client was referred to People in Transition for assistance with resources and career services. Client suffered from agoraphobia and had extensive trauma due to the emotional abuse she endured in her marriage. Client lost her massage business and felt mentally depleted. She struggled with self-confidence and had difficulties maintaining employment due to her anxiety. She started receiving temporary disability. People in Transition developed a plan of action that would help her heal from her trauma and obtain a career that would allow her to financially support herself.
Client reported she was being stalked by her ex-husband. Client started receiving services at Services Empowering the Rights of Victims. She attended mental health workshops and support groups while also going to therapy. During this time People in Transition connected the client to community resources that helped her with rent, utilities, and legal guidance.
Although mentally she felt like giving up. She followed up on all the resource applications, showed up to every appointment with us and attended our workshops. She obtained legal representation and fought for her alimony and disability rights. She obtained permanent disability and alimony was court ordered to be paid. She worked with disability agencies to obtain a ticket to work. She then began working on her resume and explored career paths. She completed our computer class and registered for the Central Service Technician course. She followed up with court on her alimony rights and pushed to get herself back on her feet. While going attending school we continue working on finding employment. She followed up with our job lead and was able to obtain a job at Virtua Hospital as a One on One Observer.
CO is the definition of resilience. She went from having agoraphobia (extreme anxiety to leave her home) to fighting for her legal rights, getting the mental health services she needed and finding employment. She now stops by our office on her way to class with a bright smile that screams “I GOT THIS”. She’s utilizing healthy coping skills and when a problem presents itself, she’s able to handle it with confidence. She obtained a reliable income and can financially support herself. This award will assist her with paying her car which she needs to continue going to work.
MC is a 56-year-old woman with two sons who joined the JFS Women’s Center in July 2014. MC’s husband was permanently disabled because of serious physical and mental health issues. MC worked full-time, as did her husband, but their financial situation drastically changed when her husband became disabled and lost his job. MC drained most of their savings to supplement this loss of income until her husband qualified for permanent disability benefits. Unfortunately, the relationship between husband and wife, as well as husband and sons, were emotionally and mentally abusive, sometimes physically. She and her two sons lived in constant fear of her husband. MC struggled to financially maintain the household while caring for her now disabled husband, raise their young son, manage her older son who didn’t get along with his stepfather, care for her ailing father-in-law, as well as her mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with dementia and cancer. After MC lost her full-time job, she obtained certification as a C.N.A. to work evenings and weekends; this work was very demanding on MC. When she could not obtain full-time work as an administrative assistant, she continued to educate herself in hopes of furthering her career in the healthcare sector, which is what brought her to the JFS women’s center. As time progressed, she collaborated with the women’s and career centers on a variety of things, including job search, resume writing, various workshops offered for personal and professional growth, and later, tuition assistance.
MC managed to overcome a variety of obstacles during her marriage. She worked through her own depression and anxiety to provide for her family. Her drive and determination helped her save her home from foreclosure while she continued to work, educate herself, and care for her family. After her in-laws and husband passed away, MC worked more hours to provide for herself and her sons, despite many bumps along the way. Eventually, MC would register for and complete a certified medical administrative assistant certification program (C.M.A.A.) through the JFS women’s center state grant that would allow her upward mobility in her place of employment. When the strain of being a C.N.A. finally took a physical toll on MC, she accepted a job as a recreation coordinator, which is proving beyond fulfilling for MC on many levels. MC is currently taking state certified classes through her employer for additional certification as an activity director. She continues to search for a part-time job on weekends and evenings as a C.M.A.A.
MC deserves this New Beginnings Award because of her strength, courage, drive, and determination to keep ‘full steam ahead’ despite the many obstacles she has encountered and overcome through the years.
Our awardee came to the program divorced expressing constant fear of her abusive husband, so controlling that when she and her children moved, he managed to move directly across the street from her!
She was desperately in need of employment however, is disabled and receiving only SSDI benefits.
Client's goal was to complete a degree that would allow her to take care of her family and to become healthier. So she attended our program's self-improvement workshops such as computer literacy, weekly support groups, eating healthy-stay active zoom sessions, which helped her with the confidence she needed to push forward. She even lost a significant amount of weight and looks great! DD ultimately earned an Associate Degree as a Paralegal, received an internship with a lawyer's office and is now working as a Paralegal. She now has a desire to become a Lawyer!
DD exemplifies what our program is about; gaining control over one's life through empowerment, employment, education, and emotional stability! If I had to choose one word for this client, it would be CHAMPION! I have been in awe of DD's resilience to keep moving through all types of personal and financial struggles. When DD shared her problems with me it was never a 'woe ways me' attitude.' She was just smart enough to ask for help when she needed it and never allowed her pride to get in the way. DD's success is due to her willingness to be guided, and never allowing her difficulties be a factor for incompletion. I am honored to have had the privilege to share in her journey for success!
LG first came to The Women’s Center (TWC) in August of 2018. At the time, she was a stay-at-home mother with two young children, ages 5 and 7. LG had been in an abusive marriage for years, but she hit her breaking point after receiving a concerning picture from her husband of her two naked children. She made the decision to end her marriage and protect her children at all costs. She knew there would be obstacles ahead of her; she wasn’t working, authorities did not believe her about the abuse, she had no family support and nowhere to go. LG was trapped but she was determined. During her time working with The Women’s Center, LG was able to receive legal counsel that helped her prepare for her divorce, she completed professional development training, improved her job readiness skills, and obtained employment. Through the years of becoming independent from her husband, LG overcame many obstacles, she became homeless and eventually secured housing, she advocated for herself and her family when the system had let her down, she worked seasonal jobs until she landed something permanent, and she helped her mother move to the United States. Through it all, LG never gave up. She had the drive to keep her children safe and provide a happy and healthy future for them as a single parent. Today, LG works for a non-profit that serves others in her community and she is building the life she has strived for. She has more goals that she would like to achieve and there is no doubt that she will accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. Her hard work and drive inspire all of us. Empowered Women, Empower New Jersey!
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