First Person is a series that highlights the voices and experiences of Our People. This as-told-to feature is based on an interview with an individual who has achieved success with the support of CITC programs and services.
As a single mom, I was struggling. I needed help finding some kind of stability. But I didn’t want to have to depend on anyone.
I’m the sibling of six, so I was always the second mom. Then I had my daughter at 19 or 20. Now, my daughter is fourteen, but I’m also taking care of my own mom, and I took care of my dad, who passed away last year. I’m always the caretaker. Everyone depends on me.
But I didn’t have anyone to depend on for a while. My high school years weren’t the easiest, when I was taking care of my siblings. Mom was there, but she was going through difficult times. Later, when I got pregnant, I knew that I wanted to be best mom I could be, and trying to figure that out without any instructions — how to get housing, how to do school — it was a process. It was hard to believe that everything would be okay.
There was a time when I was homeless, and that was scary. I started with CITC at about 19 or 20, when they found me housing through Catholic Social Services. I also got my GED through CITC. I’ve been part of CITC at different times, when I’ve needed it, like when I got on TANF to help take care of my family.
I can’t even count how many people at CITC got involved to help me achieve my goals over the years. But Sheila Mitchell is the one I felt most connected with. She believed in me, no matter what, and pushed me toward programs that would help. She got me into the Career Ready program.
[Career Ready is a supported, employer-based training program designed to help participants with some work experience gain additional skills that will allow for increased or better employment opportunities.]
When I started Career Ready, working with Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA), it only lasted a month before I applied for and got a permanent position at CIHA. Now I’m an administrative assistant. I do a bunch of things to assist all the departments, like incoming and outgoing mailing, dealing with documents, and doing inventory.
At CITC, if you share your situation, they will help you succeed. My sister is part of the Career Ready program right now. She’s two years younger than me, with four kids. I let her know it’s hard, but you gotta stick to it. There’s help. You can’t always do it by yourself. But if you follow the program, you’re golden.
When I came to CITC, I found the stability I needed. I got a foot in the door and a sense that I belonged. It offered me a sense that I could help others, too. Like, there are definitely other former Career Ready participants working at CIHA that I’ve looked to, like, wow, I want to be where they are. They’re so supportive. And now I’ve gotten to interview incoming Career Ready participants for positions at CIHA, and I get to see their growth along the way. It’s so awesome to see them level up in a matter of just a couple years.
My daughter is a freshman; my son is starting first grade. I’m planning to go back to school to earn a degree that will let me advance in the field I’m in. I want to buy a house one day. I’m in a good place. I’m happy to be at CIHA — it feels like family.