The foundation of One Family's work preventing family homelessness is direct service. We have three direct-service programs - Credential to Career Coaching (C2C), One Family Scholars (OFS), and Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) - all of which help families living with low incomes or housing insecurity to increase their income and reach stability. Scroll down to learn about how these programs impact families' lives.
Are you a current or former One Family program participant? Share your story below!
The text below is from an interview between a One Family staff member and One Family Scholar Cheryl.
Q: What brought you to join the One Family Scholars program?
A: Learning about the One Family Scholars program was a chance event I experienced while visiting U-Access on the UMass Boston campus. As a single parent and a non-traditional student, returning to school after many years was a major decision and a huge step. I was worried. I wondered if I would make it through and afford it and if I was capable. When I learned
about the program and the fantastic support offered to students in my position, I deeply hoped that I would be accepted. I had a huge goal of graduating with honors, replicating my high school valedictorian accomplishment.
Q: Were there any parts of that program that you found especially helpful?
A: The financial support greatly impacted my success in undergrad. The scholarships allowed me to focus on excelling academically without worrying about how I'd pay for it. I was able to avoid the dread and anxiety that come with a new semester bill, and the accompanying non-payment holds warning and having to work more to cover costs. Just as impactful was the invaluable relationship I developed with my coach, Amanda. I couldn't have been paired with a better mentor. She presented as more than a coach; she was a sister and a friend and pushed me to be more than a student. She pulled in my empathy, compassion, drive, and tenacity to guide me through my ups and downs. I couldn't possibly thank her enough.
Q: What are your career goals? And/or what made you decide to pursue your degree in health and exercise science?
A: One of my ultimate long-term career objectives is to start a youth fitness center that would parallel the commercial gyms available to today’s adult consumers. It would be complete with personal training, fitness equipment adapted to children, functional movement training, and emotional well-being/mindfulness support. Utilizing my exercise physiology education, I would implement a clinical component for obesity/weight management to provide in-depth, individualized health and wellness plans and track individual and group health trends to serve the general pediatric population best.
Q: Am I correct that you were also working during college? What was it like balancing work, school, and parenting?
A: Oh goodness, it was super difficult. In addition to being a single parent, I balanced being a personal trainer, realtor, full-time student, and the chapter secretary of the UMB Golden Key Int. Honor Society. It came with a lot of stress, loss of sleep, tears, and exhaustion, but I had a goal to succeed, build a better life for my son and me, and be a role model for his future endeavors.
Q: What brought you to join the One Family Advocacy Team?
A: In short, I would like to pay it forward. I received insurmountable, life-changing support that many more parents like me would benefit from. Not many programs are built to support adults in our situation, so if I can keep the mission thriving, I couldn't imagine not doing my part to help the program thrive. I can't speak enough about how amazing One Family is, so I must show it.
Q: Where do you see yourself & your family in the future, say 5-10 years from now?
A: In 5-10 years, besides having a thriving fitness facility and creating community programs, I see myself involved in ongoing research to eradicate childhood obesity and promote physical activity. I plan to travel the world for speaking engagements and be an authority in my field. In my personal life, I see myself owning a personal home and investment properties, raising a thriving young man (and maybe more children), seeing the world, and being a happy and whole woman.
Belma is a single mother of 4 beautiful kids. Her journey to One Family started when COVID-19 hit. Until then, she had been practicing as a massage therapist, but it was impossible to continue that work during the pandemic while pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy. She was suddenly faced with the daunting task of changing careers, and realized a college degree would help her more fully support her family. In January 2021, she officially took the leap and enrolled for her associate degree, and applied for support from the One Family Scholars program soon after.
As a One Family Scholar, the tools, resources, and coaching Belma received were invaluable. Reflecting on her experiences in the program, she shared:
"Just having someone there to talk to about what I’m experiencing and help me come up with a plan to accomplish my goals – it’s such a big help. It takes a LOT of energy to balance going to school, raising children, and working full-time, but having a set structure helps me manage it. And knowing I’m not alone on this journey helps too."
After years of hard work and long days, last spring Belma finally graduated with her associate degree in human services from Bunker Hill Community College, and now she is enrolled at Bridgewater State University for her bachelor’s in social work! Her end goal is to earn a master’s in social work as well, and use it to open her own small shelter for teen parents experiencing domestic violence.
Belma's education and career success will also help her achieve her goal of homeownership. As someone who has lived in several shelters throughout her lifetime, and even had to live in her car with her three young kids at one point, having a stable home is very important to her family. Looking ahead, Belma says:
"I know that all of the hard work I’m putting in today will be worth it when I graduate from college and can buy our first home, and my family can live comfortably without struggling ever again. One Family is helping put that dream closer in reach, and I’m so grateful to have them walking beside me on this journey."
Fitzroy is a deeply motivated and compassionate individual, who hopes to use his career to help motivate others. When he first heard about One Family’s Credential to Career (C2C) program in March 2022, Fitzroy was working in an entry-level role as an Environmental Services Technician at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital. He was looking for a way to advance his career and increase his income, and the program seemed like a great opportunity to explore his options.
In the program, Fitzroy worked one-on-one with a coach to align his skills and interests with career growth opportunities in the hospital network, and he realized a career in mental health counseling could provide both personal fulfillment and a family-sustaining wage. Reflecting on this experience, he says:
“The coaching I received helped give me a broader perspective of what’s possible in my career. It helped for others to see my potential, and gave me more confidence. Sometimes you don’t realize there’s more in you to give the world, until you start to empower yourself, motivate yourself, and share that with others. And that’s what makes me want to do mental health counseling.”
During the C2C program, Fitzroy worked with his coach to prepare for job interviews and promotion conversations, and since then Fitzroy has been promoted within Signature Healthcare not once but twice, and his income has increased roughly 20%! He now works as a Mental Health Specialist – a role perfectly aligned with his ultimate career goal of mental health counseling. He says, “I am enjoying this position, because I’m there to support the needs of an individual who may not know their next step. When I was starting out, getting the access to a One Family coach gave me the push to go further. When people are encouraged, they can see that they can do more in life for themselves and empower themselves going forward.”
Fitzroy’s determination and hard work are already paying off, as he not only empowers himself, but helps uplift the clients he serves across the Brockton region. He is an incredible role model for his two children, working hard to advance his career, build assets, and achieve lasting economic stability.
Ashley is an amazing mom and dedicated college student, who has worked hard to get to where she is today. In 2018, Ashley was working with a Family Self-Sufficiency coordinator at her local housing authority when she first heard of the One Family Scholars program. A mom of 3 young kids, she dreamed of a career as a Nurse Practitioner that would provide both personal fulfillment and increased income, but she knew she would need a college degree to make it happen. When Ashley was accepted to the One Family Scholars program, it put that dream closer in her reach.
At the time, Ashley was earning an associate degree in nursing at Cape Cod Community College. As a One Family Scholar, she participated in monthly coaching to help her navigate the challenges of being a full-time student-parent. Reflecting back, she says:
“The coaching calls were amazing, especially during COVID. I remember sneaking outside to talk with [my coach] on the phone about how I was managing everything - it was so, so helpful.”
Through the program, Ashley also received scholarship funds to cover tuition, books, a laptop, scrubs for her nursing classes, and more. This support, along with her own determination, enabled Ashley to graduate with her associate degree last year! Since then, Ashley started her first job as a full-time Registered Nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess. The job perfectly positions her to enter a career specializing in neonatal or labor & delivery nursing, her top two choices. Furthermore, she is now enrolled at UMass Boston for her bachelor’s degree - in a program designed for working nurses - bringing her that much closer to her dream career as a Nurse Practitioner.
My name is Leannah and I am a 22 year old student-parent at MassBay Community College. I have two children, Lillyanah who is 5 years old, and Leonardo who is almost 2. My children are awesome. They are my whole world, and I cannot wait to own a home for us one day. Owning a home is something that is extremely important to me, because as a teenage mother I was homeless with my daughter, having to bounce in between family members’ homes. We are luckily now living in our own subsidized housing apartment, but I never want my children to be homeless, or go through anything I had to go through.
I decided to join the C2C program because I have always wanted a better future for myself and my children, and college has always been a goal, but I never knew where or how to start. During the program, my coaches were extremely helpful with getting me on the right path to start my goals. They helped me learn about budgeting, how much money we would need to live a comfortable lifestyle, even learning about the difference between for-profit and non-profit colleges. But one of my favorite parts of the program was exploring all the different occupations that are out there. It opened my eyes to so many different things I never knew about, and allowed me to match my skills and interest to different occupations and see which one would suit me best.
Through C2C, I realized I would love to be a business general operations manager. I decided to start pursuing this goal in an associate degree program at MassBay Community College right away. My goal is to transfer after two years, then get a bachelor’s degree at Framingham State University. I am now a full-time student, and working part-time to support my family while I’m in school. My first semester of college just ended, and it has been going excellent so far! I have made sure to keep focused on my future goals. Knowing that all this hard work will bring my kids a brighter future makes everything worth it.
In 5 to 10 years, I see myself graduated from college, well-established in my occupation, and finally owning a home. I am so thankful for One Family. Before I joined their program, I did not know how to apply to college, apply for financial aid, anything. Getting help from my coaches changed everything. It made me realize I can do this, and I will get where I need to be.
In September 2021, eleven years after graduating from high school, Leyani made the decision to continue her education and enroll for her associate degree at Roxbury Community College. A single mom of a then 3 year old daughter, Leyani was working incredibly hard to balance school, work, and parenting duties. It was then that she found the One Family Scholars program, which provided both one-on-one coaching and scholarship funds to aid her on her education journey. This support was pivotal, as Leyani is also a first-generation college student. In reflecting on her decision to return to school, Leyani shared that she hopes to change the course of the legacy passed down to her, and set an example for her daughter and future family.
Not only that, but while going to school full-time, and being a full-time parent, Leyani also works full-time in an organization where she has been able to earn her second promotion in less than two years. This Scholar is currently assisting some of the most underserved communities of Boston by helping them continue their education, and getting them back into the workforce.
Through incredible determination and perseverance, Leyani is graduating with her associate degree in May 2023 (which she accomplished in under two years!) She is even in the process of transferring into a 4-year institution where she’s hoping to earn her bachelor's and master’s in social work, with the eventual goal of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. It is her life's mission and passion to become an agent of social change, and we are confident she will be a powerful force for good in the world.
La Raye’s story is one of triumph and success. Her journey to the One Family Scholars program began back in 2007: La Raye was married, a mother of three, working hard to raise her two boys while also caring for a young daughter who was born premature and faced a series of health complications. It was around this time that she discovered her husband was grappling with addiction. Unfortunately, the family lost everything, and La Raye entered a shelter with her children. This was when she first heard about One Family.
La Raye told her shelter case workers about her education and career goals and the plans she had for herself and her family, but unfortunately she could not afford to go back to college because of her circucmstances. La Raye had been enrolled in college previously but had taken time off to focus on raising her family. Her case workers had encouraged La Raye to apply to the One Family Scholars program to receive both scholarship support and academic/career coaching. Thanks to an encouraging support team, La Raye re-enrolled at Cambridge College to complete her degree in 2016, and in December 2018 joined the One Family Scholars program!
In the program, La Raye really valued the relationships she built with some of the staff and other Scholars in the program - including the close personal relationship she formed with her One Family coach - in addition to the flexible financial support. Reflecting back on her coaching conversations, she recalls:
"[My coach] would always say, 'Raye don’t panic, just breathe, and we’ll make sure everything is set. You are going to do well. We’re not just here to help you with school, we’re here to help with whatever you need to be successful!' I could call him at any time, and he would always answer, and by the time we got off the phone I was feeling better."
This semester, La Raye’s years of hard work will finally pay off as she completes her bachelor’s degree in human services from Cambridge College! With graduation on the horizon, she is already working full-time in her field, in a position where she feels valued, and where she can learn and grow each day. La Raye plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology in the near future, and use this credential to open her own counseling practice where she can encourage and motivate others to see that mistakes don’t define who they are, and help them build towards their best selves. Her children have an incredible role model in their mother - and her youngest child is beginning college herself this year! The future looks truly bright for La Raye and her family.