A single mother rebounds to re-take control of her destiny
In 2005, Elsa was pregnant, homeless and living in a shelter with two of her four children. A recent divorce had left her without a stable home and with very few resources. Eventually, she secured a spot in transitional housing with the YWCA. Things began to look up in 2010 when Elsa learned that she was accepted into King County Public Housing at Birch Creek. While this solved one major obstacle, the road to becoming self-sufficient was still long. Through the help of DSHS, Elsa was referred to a women’s-only training program called Courage 360. This helped build her confidence and hone her computer skills. At the same time, DSHS also enrolled her into the “With Grace Foundation” program which helped boost her self-esteem.
Elsa took the resources given to her and was determined to make positive changes in her life, which included furthering her education. She enrolled at Green River Community College and worked on her homework several days a week – accessing computer lab resources at both Neighborhood House and Kent Youth and Family center. After a lot of hard work, Elsa graduated from Green River Community College in 2012 with an AA in business management. It was at the Birch Creek graduation ceremony where Elsa first met Marla Brown, the career center coordinator with Neighborhood House.
Shortly after that first meeting, Elsa began working with Marla at the Birch Creek Career Center to find employment. Marla helped Elsa develop a resume and practiced interviewing skills. Because there had been such a large time gap in employment, Elsa had a tough time finding work. Marla became Elsa’s advocate, constantly encouraging her to believe in herself.
“When I met Elsa, she struck me as a very determined and hard-working individual,” Marla says. “She even rode her bike to jobs when she didn’t have a car and held six different jobs last year, hoping that one would turn into a full-time offer. I encouraged her during these times when she was working as a temp to just hang in there, since these positions allowed her to make payments on the car she had recently purchased. “
Marla says Elsa was relentless, taking temporary seasonal jobs at a fish cannery and Costco.
Finally, in December 2014, Elsa was offered a full time job with Northwest Protective Services. She credits her success not only to Neighborhood House, but to the many agencies and people along the way who supported her. And Marla believes she has become a great role model for other residents living at Birch Creek who have children. Elsa now has her own car, and is able to support her family, and she’s planning to buy her own house sometime soon.
“Neighborhood house provides all the tools one needs to find success,” she says. “However, if people don’t keep their tools sharpened, they could lose out on some great opportunities. The path is not easy, but the eventual triumph is exhilarating,” she adds.