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Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 1:00PM

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Estranged from her own mom, “Jemma” relied on the kindness of an acquaintance to shelter herself and her baby when she left high school without finishing at age 19.

The woman on whose couch the single mom and her 9-month-old son were staying had heard of Family Renew Community and encouraged her to apply. Homeless and unemployed, Jemma came to live at the agency’s Holly Hill residential campus in April 2017. When she left in May 2018, she had a full-time job as a certified nursing assistant, the resources to move into a two-bedroom rental house, and a new outlook.

“I could see the change in her,” says Holly Hill Housing and Homeless Prevention Program Manager Anita Dudley, the case manager who guided Jemma on her path out of homelessness.

Jemma’s success was the result of a process made possible by supporters of Family Renew Community’s restorative programs for families experiencing homelessness.

Thanks to grants from Women United Volusia and the Minto Foundation, these programs currently include funding for parents like Jemma to obtain training and education to prepare for well-paying jobs and careers. The money is covering tuition, fees and other costs for parents to earn vocational certificates from local private institutions. It also is covering miscellaneous costs for Family Renew parents who are availing themselves of Florida’s tuition waiver for homeless students at Daytona State College. Parents are increasing their earning potential for life by earning high-school equivalency diplomas and training for careers in health care, law enforcement and other fields.

Jemma earned her nursing assistant certification with funding from Women United Volusia, an initiative of the United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties to create lasting change in the lives of women and children.

“It did open up a lot of opportunity for her,” case manager Dudley says.

Dudley helped Jemma recognize and build her strengths, and connected her with resources in the community. Before long, Jemma started working part-time position as a housekeeper in a local luxury hotel. She then enrolled at Caring for Others Academy. Upon completion, she was hired full time as a certified nursing assistant at a rehabilitation center.

All the while, she saved up for her moved to permanent housing and worked toward other personal goals, including reconnection with her mother.

Her son, now 2, has a home — and a grandmother.


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