MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE…
I had a chance to sit down with Fairouz, a recent graduate of Ferry Street Apartments, one of our long-term, educational, transitional housing programs. She had a lot of wonderful things to say about our programs.
Fairouz and her two children found themselves homeless in 2016. Her Egyptian husband demanded they move to his country. When Fairouz rejected the idea, he opened the door and asked them to leave. Because Fairouz’s marriage had fallen apart rather abruptly, she found herself with some difficult decisions. She had moved to the United States with no family and married a man she believed would always be part of her life. Now she was homeless and had nothing. The family moved into the Shelter as soon as an apartment became available.
When I first met Fairouz, she was very quiet and timid. English was not her first language, so she was unsure of voicing her concerns or her opinions. She was thankful for the clothing, household goods, and food items the Shelter provided when she had come with nothing. Fairouz states that with the Shelter’s help, she was able to walk proudly, feel more independent, and build up her self-esteem. Fairouz started gathering friends, which she calls family, and started getting things in order. First, she got a job and started saving money. Next, she signed up at the local community college and put in an application for our transitional housing.
Fairouz was accepted into the Ferry Street program in the early spring of 2017 and attributes her success to all of the people who helped her along the way. She had many successes in our program. She took two years of classes at Northampton Community College, got a driver’s license, bought a car, and started the nursing program at Moravian College. She has worked hard on mastering English (it’s her third language) and has put the mandatory parenting classes to good use. She says that the guidance she received from her counselor in the program is what gave her strength, even when she was struggling. Right before she graduated from the Ferry Street program, she became a U.S. citizen!
This beautiful family now lives in a house, with a yard, in a neighborhood they love. Fairouz’s mother, whom she has not seen for years, was able to visit from Europe. Fairouz is currently working part-time, managing a family and attending Moravian College. When asked where she sees herself in five years, she said she would like to have her Bachelor’s degree in nursing, continue for a PhD, and buy her first home, while also sending her kids to the best schools and colleges.
It is with the help of people like you, that our long-term transitional housing programs are able to help families like Fairouz’s to get an education, become successful and have dreams and plans for the next generation. Thank you for continuing to support our programs.
CAAP Self-Sufficiency Awards 2018
Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley: Sixth Street Shelter’s Ferry Street Apartments
Cynthia Salcedo and her boyfriend came to the United States in 2008 from the Dominican Republic. They were married and Cynthia gave birth to their daughter, Chelsea. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Cynthia’s husband was deported back to the Dominican Republic, leaving Cynthia living alone and unable to keep up with her rent and bills.
Cynthia and her daughter then moved in with her father at his girlfriend’s house, where she resided in their unfinished basement. Cynthia was trying to better her life by finding employment, but her daughter Chelsea had severe gastro-intestinal issues. This forced Cynthia to miss a lot of work, especially when Chelsea landed in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for a month. Cynthia also attempted to go back to college, but could not find childcare that was able to give her daughter the level of care needed.
Cynthia became very depressed and suffered great anxiety during this time. She knew she had to get herself and her daughter out of this situation. Cynthia was determined to go back to school, so she enrolled at Northampton Community College (NCC) in 2014. She also enrolled in the KEYS program at the college. KEYS (Keystone Education Yields Success) is designed to assist students who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) support in their pursuit of post-secondary education. It was there that she learned about the Ferry Street Apartments program.
The Ferry Street Apartments is an intensive 18- to 24-month transitional housing and educational/vocational program that help homeless families achieve their educational goals, become more self-sufficient, and improve their situation though case management, financial assistance, and other services.
Cynthia interviewed with Roslyn, Counselor at Ferry Street, and was accepted into the program. Cynthia was able to receive childcare through the KEYS program right at NCC, so she could go feed Chelsea and deal with her gastro-intestinal issues directly. She also went to therapy at the encouragement of her Ferry Street Counselor.
Cynthia says her Counselor, Roslyn, and KEYS coordinator, Penny, were like her cheerleaders by always encouraging her not to give up and helping her with problem-solving skills. Roslyn says, “Cynthia was a very hard working young woman. She never gave up. She would go to the learning center and write her papers over and over again. It was wonderful to see how her grades went up as her self- confidence grew.”
Cynthia graduated from NCC and was accepted into Kutztown University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology. Cynthia was most proud of becoming an A student and receiving several scholarships.
Cynthia graduated and is now employed full-time as a substance abuse counselor. Her starting salary “incomed” her off all government assistance. Cynthia and her daughter now live in their own apartment. Cynthia’s daughter is thriving in school and Cynthia is looking forward to pursuing a Master’s degree in forensic psychology. Cynthia thanks Community Action because “it provided the foundation of my success, and led me to a path towards a better life.”