Stepping Out of Shelter into a Supportive Community

“All of us here have similar goals, even though we’re on different paths.”

Alisha participant

Alisha and her 4 year-old-son, Isaiah, are doing well. They’re living at the Jeremiah Program housing in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. Isaiah is going to school and plays with his friends. She is a student at Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC), pursuing a career in early childhood education. But this did not come easy, and Alisha’s determination to give them both the best life possible is truly inspiring.

About one year ago, Alisha and Isaiah were living at People Serving People homeless shelter. She was unsure what their future held and did not want to raise her son in the shelter. When Lisa, her GESMN career navigator, came into the picture, everything changed.

“At People Serving People there were a lot of opportunities presented but Goodwill stuck out to me because of Lisa,” Alisha explains. “It’s more than just a job for her. Most people come in and answer your questions like they are reading off a script, but Goodwill wants to know my goals and what can be done to accomplish them. Everything Lisa does makes things easier on me and I can tell she really cares.”

Alisha and Lisa hit it off right away, but Alisha still had to do the heavy lifting.

“To get out of the shelter and into the Jerimiah Program, I had to commit to four months of classes to qualify to move,” she says. “I had to communicate with Lisa regularly and have the time available to meet with her to go over things. She helped keep my cell phone in service and taught me to verbalize my goals and what I wanted to accomplish. I had to go to many interviews with the Jerimiah Program and she always went with me. There were a lot of motivational talks to help me get here. It was a long process.”

But, in her words, it was worth it.

Jerimiah Program works to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time, helping families transform their lives. Once Alisha was able to move into the program housing in Minneapolis, she enrolled in school at MCTC.

“There is childcare on site so that really helps,” she says. “My goal is to become an early childhood education teacher. I’ve switched my major a couple times but now I feel like I have found what my heart likes and loves.”

None of that would be possible without stable housing, reliable childcare and constant support from her GESMN career navigator.

“Alisha worked so hard to get out of shelter and into a program that sets her and her family up for stability and success,” GESMN career navigator, Lisa, says. “She is an honor roll student and is now seeking her CNA on top of all that she is doing. She goes after what she wants.”

While Alisha works hard and stays committed to school, there is one person always in her mind: her son.

“Seeing my son go to school every morning, I started thinking maybe I should do that,” she laughs. “I want him to have a role model and someone to look up to, so I am leading by example. I showed him that I could get out of bad situations and take advantage of better ones, so he can too. I want him to be proud of his mama and know that he can go to college too.”

Alisha is also a participant in GESMN’s Stable Families Initiative. The program works specifically with families in Hennepin County shelters or are at risk of becoming homeless, with a goal to obtain a livable wage that will help them become self-sufficient and prevent them from returning to shelter. Families receive help with everything from GED preparation, training and education to assistance with criminal expungements and resumes. Career navigators work 1 on 1 with participants to eliminate barriers, such as interview clothes and transportation, that prevent them from having a stable, successful life.

Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota has been helping people in our community like Alisha realize the power of work for 100 years.