Maria Rinaldi, our Youth Programs Director, shared this story.
“Deirdre” enrolled in our Early Morning Study Academy (a program to earn your high school diploma or GED) when she was 17 years old. For most of her life, she had only known instability. Her mother was not in the picture, and her father wasn’t around much either. Both were addicts. Deirdre never had a place where she could feel at home. Ultimately, the court placed her in the custody of her grandmother, but she died shortly thereafter.
Deirdre walked into Success Centers accompanied by a friend who had graduated with our help. From the moment she started our program, she made a consistent effort to get through the plan we created for her. She always had a smile on her face, even though her situation was difficult. Eventually, her housing situation stabilized. However, she needed to work. Our counselor assisted her with her resume, “dress to success” work attire, and mock interviews to increase her confidence when applying for a job. Soon enough she found employment at a gastronomy business.
From the outset, however, Deirdre had always stated that she wanted to become a nurse. Our counselor worked with her on an individualized plan, including practical barrier removal, to allow her to get to her first big milestone: graduating from high school. In October 2019, she did just that. Despite all of the obstacles, she earned her diploma. She attended the graduation with her boyfriend who brought a big flower arrangement for her.
Earlier this year, Deirdre contacted her former Success Centers counselor. She told her that she found a better job as a caregiver and that she had enrolled in summer classes with a certified nursing program.
Success Centers continues to operate, even in the face of the quarantine. The pandemic has changed the way we work, but it hasn’t stopped us. Maria states, “Until COVID-19, I thought the people who worked at home were lucky, that they didn’t work as hard to collect their paychecks. The reality is that I’m working much more now compared to before. I’m communicating more with my colleagues. I’m collaborating more. I’m learning. And through all of this, we are able to maintain services to our young people.”