Last year, LifeSTEPS increased services, and the data shows that our efforts are improving the lives of our residents. We have increased numbers in every category, except for employee turnaround and in-kind donations, which was supplemented by community donations. We are pleased to share our success.
Rarely does someone come into contact with Angelique who is not inspired by her life story. Angelique is the definition of resilience. She came to California as a refugee from Rwanda in 1999, leaving behind a past of incredible sorrow–many of her family members were slain in the violent campaign of the Rwanda government on its own citizens. Angelique and her husband were lucky to be alive. Despite such personal trauma, they were both hopeful they could start a new life in Sacramento.
The USA Properties Fund community of Silverado Creek has been Angelique’s home now for seven years. Here, she has continued to work on healing from her past-here at Silverado Creek she has found a supportive community to raise her two sons, ages 11 and 8, and to do what most busy moms do in Sacramento-run between her kids’ soccer games, work, and school. Angelique is very grateful to be this busy and knows without the JB Brown Academic Scholarship Program, life could have been much different.
The JB Brown scholarships Angelique received have propelled her from earning her AA at Sacramento City College to ultimately transferring to Sacramento State University and earning a four year degree. At Sacramento State, Angelique majored in Occupational Health and Safety with an emphasis in Aging (Gerontology). This course of study fit Angelique’s caring and empathic character well since she is naturally a giver and is fulfilled by helping others. Angelique opted to do an internship with LifeSTEPS for her gerontology class and this experience has proven to be valuable for her career. Angelique graduated from Sacramento State in 2016 and immediately applied with LifeSTEPS for a Director of Social Services position serving older adults in affordable housing.
Angelique has been an amazing addition to the LifeSTEPS team and in just a few months on the job she has already had a lasting positive impact for the senior residents she serves. Recently one of Angelique’s properties was featured on Good Day Sacramento for an innovative rock painting class facilitated by one of her residents. As the camera operator panned the room capturing the residents proudly showing off their painted rocks, Angelique was there in the background–feeling thankful that she was there at all and knowing she had come full circle.
New Adventures For Montecito Couple
In many ways Felix’s and Ofelia’s maturity in years was hidden by the lines in their faces and their gray hair–all just a mask to cover what they really were: two wide-eyed teenagers trying to figure out their adult world for the first time! Everything was new to them and exciting, but on the other hand, very frightening as well. It wasn’t long before Ofelia missed her sons and her grandchildren terribly. She missed everything that was familiar about her home in Armenia. Plus navigating Los Angeles was a nightmare–especially difficult when you have no financial resources and don’t speak the language. Everyday Ofelia cried a little and wondered why they had come to this strange new country.
Felix was having a hard time adjusting too. The loneliness was really hard for him since he is naturally very social and outgoing. When Ani, LifeSTEPS’ Director of Social Services at Montecito Terrance, first met the couple she could see right away how lost Felix and Ofelia were. The couple’s love for each other was very clear, but they also needed friends and a support system to help them adjust to their new life in the US. Ani began to personally invite the couple to LifeSTEPS activities such as bingo, Zumba class, and potluck socials. She introduced them to other residents who had also emigrated from Armenia, some of whom were attending college classes and taking ESL classes to learn English. Ofelia and Felix slowly began to make friends and soon Ofelia came to Ani asking for help to enroll in college classes too. Felix followed soon after and it wasn’t long before the two of them were studying their English together.
With the Partnership for HOPE Fund and LIfeSTEPS Support, Diana has a Bright Future Ahead!
The wildfire reached Sweet T’s restaurant in Santa Rosa on October 9th. It was gone in a matter of minutes–reduced to hot metal and ash. And so was Nina’s only source of income.
Nina, 30, is a single mom living with her nine-year-old daughter, Kaylee, in the USA Properties Fund community of Terracina at Santa Rosa. Nina had been a server at Sweet T’s restaurant. She applied for unemployment immediately, but it would not come soon enough to pay her November rent.
Nina is not a stranger to hard times or hard work.The daughter of immigrants from Thailand, her father passed away when Nina was just nine years old, leaving her mother to work 2 or 3 jobs at a time to provide the basics for her children. Nina herself entered the workforce at 15 years old to contribute to the family’s income.Though it was necessary, it greatly troubled Nina’s mother. She had hoped for an easier life for her daughter, but Nina’s life has been far from easy. She came to Terracina at Santa Rosa after several years of “couch surfing” among friends. Having an affordable apartment at Terracina at Santa Rosa was a huge break for Nina. It gave her the stability she needed to work and pursue her dream of a college education.
Nina has always believed that hard work and education will be her key to financial security for herself and her daughter. She attended Santa Rosa Community College and slowly chipped away at the classes she needed to earn her degree. In 2016 Nina achieved an Associate of Science degree with honors and promptly entered the competitive Dental Hygienist program at Santa Rosa Community College as the next step on her path forward. The Dental Hygienist program is rigorous and expensive–with student loans and her income from her restaurant job, Nina was barely holding it all together. And then wildfire came to Santa Rosa–bringing devastation and destruction and putting everything she had worked for in jeopardy.
Nancy, LifeSTEPS’ Director of Social Services at Terracina Santa Rosa, heard about Nina’s situation and connected Nina with the local St. Vincent De Paul agency. They agreed to pay both Nina’s November and her December rent. LifeSTEPS was also able to help Nina with other financial needs through a special LifeSTEPS’ Fire Victims Fund and Nancy encouraged Nina to apply for a college scholarship through USA Properties’ JB Brown Fund. Nina will soon be awarded a JB Brown scholarship of $3,500 toward her education. What an emotional rollercoaster the last few months have been for Nina!
For someone who has gotten through life on grit and the strength of her own willpower, Nina is truly overwhelmed with gratitude that so many people have reached out to help her. Perhaps, all Nina’s early years of struggle prepared her for this latest crisis. Her strong will to persevere through difficult times continues to fuel her desire to achieve her goals, but now she carries with her a renewed hope that nothing (not even a raging wildfire) will stop her from creating a better life for her family. 2018 is now looking to be her best year ever!
“Continuing on my path of education shows that even through the tough times, I am still able to achieve my goals. It shows my mother that she did not hinder my dreams by asking me to work at a young age. It shows my daughter what perseverance looks like.” Nina, November 2017