By Jonathan Young
“You are the only person that holds you back.
It’s up to me to accept it and try to do something about it.”
We first met Maria through Talking Sidewalks. She was living in the HomeStart women’s shelter in Chapel Hill but she was full of ambition. “I learned that a place is what you make of it,” she says. Maria had had a long career in Information Technology in Maryland, and moved to Raleigh, NC for a better job in the field. The job was great, but at the same time Maria was battling with a rare disease called PCD that caused her to get frequent lung infections. She was hospitalized after one of the infections, and her doctors told her she couldn’t keep working with her health conditions.
After leaving the hospital, Maria was without a job and money to pay rent; she had no other option but to turn to a shelter. “When I walked through the doors of the Homestart Women’s shelter, I was afraid, and because of fear I was expecting to be on my guard,” says Maria, but the staff embraced her and within her first weeks she got involved with the CEF Opportunity Class that was being held weekly in the shelter.
Working with CEF, Maria was able to connect with SSI and the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program and find an affordable place to live in Durham, NC. “It was like magic,” says Maria. “I wish the world would stop looking at a person that has been in a homeless shelter like it is a bad thing; personally, I’ve grown so much since I went through that and I’m forever grateful for the experience.”
Maria says she has learned a lot about savings and financial responsibility through working with CEF. “I was always used to living in the ‘right now’… but now that i have a savings plan and a goal, It makes me think twice.” Using CEF’s Safe Savings Accounts, Maria met her first savings goal of a personal emergency fund within just two months and is now saving to start her own small business: Picc Me By Design, creating stylish and comfortable Picc Line covers for medical patients.
Maria remembers her father always saying, “ You’ve got to have a backup plan in whatever you choose to do in this life,” and now she does. “I’m happy now,” says Maria, “from the shelter to here is just a beginning point in my life. With the help from CEF I’m ready to change the world one person at a time!”
Last week, the women at the Homestart shelter threw Maria a send-off party because she had landed a fantastic job in Washington State in the IT field. She’s absolutely thrilled to be going back to work, and it was inspiring / beautiful / overwhelming to see how much the women at homestart respected, cared, and looked up to Maria. She’ll be greatly missed, but we know she’s moving on to do great things in her life!