A Reason for Change

Hi, my name is Aja, and I am a mother to three remarkable and resilient children, whom I cherish with all my heart and give thanks daily for the blessings brought to me since their births. I will be the first to admit that I made mistakes in my life, and chose a path of hardship, hurt, and hang up, and that path led me to dark places with destructive people who like myself believed that the vicious circle of drug abuse and domestic disorder were normal human behaviors.

Over the years, I convinced myself that nothing was wrong in my relationship and that all people have problems, all couples fight, and I just needed to be more accepting. This was the great lie I told myself, and my children just to make it through a day. Coping with my personal pain and disappointment was easy enough, but when I became aware and awakened to the anguish and uncertainty my five-year-old child was experiencing daily, I knew it was time to act and make a change or live on in this emotional hell that would cause irreparable damage to the mental health, wellbeing, and physical development of my children. I called Victim Services at Rural Resources in November 2020 and asked for help. I was so scared that I was making another bad life decision and there would be grave consequences to follow for this action, but…

I was wrong. The advocates that I worked with were compassionate, they listened, they supported me, they made my children feel safe and comfortable and they gave me the space and time I needed to tell my story and find my footing. They moved quickly and efficiently, teaming up with the Emergency & Transitional Housing Department, they placed the children and me in a safe shelter four days after the initial visit, where we were able to breathe once again with no fear of retaliation. We felt protected and well cared for.

The staff at Victim Services also helped me with legal matters concerning custody and other court orders and documents. I do not have words to describe the gratitude I have towards the people, players, staff, and volunteers that enable the community action programs to exist at Rural Resources. The program manager and other case workers were in contact regularly, informing me of any opportunities, and offering me every know community resource. Food, clothing, diapers, toys, books, games, and movies just to name a few. Transportation, family counseling, educational tools, and other social services. While living at the shelter I was able to apply for many programs that would provide housing stability while we transitioned into this new phase of our lives.

After locating an approved rental home RRCA paid my initial move-in cost and provided rental assistance to me through a program called CHG, Consolidated Homeless Grants. We moved into our new home on December 23rd, 2020, fifty-one days after I originally sought help. Our Christmas wish had become a reality! Being on the CHG subsidy allowed me to continue online education and stay at home with my two young sons, with the added benefit of qualifying for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program LIHEAP I was able to start saving money and preparing for re-entry into employment after three long years at home.

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Without the grants and program assistance from Rural Resources, I can honestly say I have no idea how I would have survived. I can attest to the fact that hard work, persistence, and communicating openly with the case managers, will pay off and those successful outcomes will come to fruition.

I finished college in March of 2022 with an Associate of Applied Science in Management and certificates in Lean/Six Sigma and Project Management. My two young sons have been enrolled in a home-based daycare and are getting the social engagement that toddlers need and thrive on. My school-age daughter is adjusting well to our new environment and has recently joined the local Girl Scout Troop. And I have found a meaningful job that I absolutely love, right there in the same building working alongside the very people who have given so much of their time, energy, and support to me and my family. I feel honored to be part of a team of people who make such a positive impact on the lives of everyone they meet and our community.

There were many ups and downs over the course of the past 18 months, but as of today, I can look back and be proud of that first scary step I took, in the right direction, towards long-term health, happiness, and self-sustainability. My children and I will forever be grateful for the people and resources they made available to us. We would strongly encourage others who may be in need, to choose humility and hope and reach out to Rural Resources, because it might just change your LIFE!!!

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