OUR SUCCESS STORIES
In November 2008, was one year clean and sober. She was also homeless. She had just begun overnight visits with her 8-year old son Samuel, who was in foster care. Her CPS worker recommended the CPS Home Finding Program at Next Move. Pam stayed in the Group Home with five other families for five months, enabling her son to return from foster care. She speaks highly of the staff, especially Pat Dearing, the Lead Support Staff. “She did more for me than my own sponsor. She made time for my family and me. She listened to us and gave us positive feedback when we needed it. Pat was a counselor, a mentor, a housing specialist and a friend.” Pam is now living in Saybrook, a one-year program for affordable permanent housing. She feels blessed to have had the opportunity to enter the Home Finding Program and now looks forward to her future with her son.
Lucky’s luck turned around when he and his family came to the Mather Community Campus (MCC) program in 2003. Lucky was 11, and had been bouncing from shelter to shelter with siblings and his drug-addicted mother. “I didn’t want people to know where I lived because I was so embarrassed,” Lucky said. “But at Mather I felt some stability for the first time. We weren’t all crammed into one room.”
Lucky was also grateful for the programs that helped his mother get off drugs and develop better parenting skills. “I saw a big change in her and in myself.” Clint Bunting, MCC Youth Development Specialist, was the first to see the potential in Lucky. Clint connected Lucky with volunteer Spencer Walker, who said that he “wanted to show Lucky what a real family is like and to turn his negative into positives.” Walker, a father of two, said Lucky became his “third son.” Walker introduced Lucky to basketball and football. Walker also taught Lucky about expectations and responsibilities “He had to promise me that he would be successful and go to college,” Walker said.
Lucky did not disappoint. After a year with MCC, Lucky played basketball and football at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. Luck also posted a 4.0 GPA all four years. Lucky, who turned 18 in January, received a full academic scholarship to Grambling University in Louisiana. Grambling is regarded as one of the top African American Universities in the country.
“I don’t regret the past. Everything happens for a reason. Thanks to the Mather program I have a future,” Lucky said. He plans to major in business and marketing; and, perhaps, to follow in Spencer White’s example by transforming the life of another boy who needs help.
Leann has a job few women have. She is a train conductor, taking passengers along Amtrak’s San Francisco to Gilroy line. Two years ago this 44-year-old mother of four was in an abusive relationship and struggling with drugs and alcohol.
“My life was getting staler and staler all the time and instead of using any energy I had to make the right choices, I used it to make all of the wrong choices,” Leann said. “At the time it seemed so much easier to use drugs to numb the pain.”
In 2006 she lost everything. Her twin girls were taken by Child Protective Services and Leann was forced to move in with her parents.
While living at home Leann entered a treatment program and got her children back. In April of 2007, she moved to Mather Community Campus, a two-year employment focused transitional housing program for the homeless.
“We learned to pull together and become a family again.” The program taught her basic life skills, including positive parenting and healthy eating. “The classes were awesome in the way they taught us appropriate discipline techniques,” Leann said.
Her daughters thrived under the MCC children’s programs. She took advantage of the job counseling services and talked extensively with fellow residents about training and potential careers. That’s how she decided to enter a program to become a train conductor. She completed the 18-unit course in just a semester and graduated near the top of her class.
Today Leann and her family rent a house in San Jose close to family who can help out with daycare. She loves her job and knows that she would not be on track without the Next Move and the Mather Community Campus program.
On the evening of September 13, 2007, 20-year-old Enrique Parez was riding home on his bicycle from his job at a local grocery store. When he stopped at an ATM to deposit his paycheck two people tried to rob him. Enrique dropped his bike and ran, but he was shot in the back. He died in the hospital. The suspects threatened his mother, Marylou, sending the 39-year-old woman into a tailspin.
“I just totally freaked out and became paranoid. I was already in shock over my son’s death,” exclaimed Marylou. “I started to use drugs again when someone offered them to me to make me feel better. I lost my job at the State and things went from bad to worse.”
To escape the threats, the mother of three other children (two of them toddlers) and her fiancé had to stay with friends until they found out about Next Move’s Family Shelter Program. Marylou and her family have a private room but go to a common area for three meals a day. While Marylou was reluctant to live in a shelter, she soon learned Next Move offered so much more than a roof over her family’s head.
“There are requirements, like working with a case manager, participating in alcohol and drug treatment programs as well as looking for work and permanent housing,” described Marylou.
Thanks to Next Move, Marylou is again working for the state. She said her family will have a place to live soon.
“I can’t say enough good things about the staff here. This is way more than a job to them. They care about their clients. They were encouraging me when I didn’t even believe in myself” said Marylou.
In 2005, Holly was a pregnant, homeless addict with little education and several outstanding warrants for her arrest. To change her life, sought county-funded residential treatment for her addiction and utilized CPS services to reunite with her newborn child. But Holly attributes her success to Next Move’s Mather Community Campus.
Mather Community Campus (MCC) provides transitional housing program for the homeless. MCC is a chance at a new beginning. Every family shares three goals: to have a job, a savings account and stable housing at the end of two years.
This involves cleaning up credit reports, getting a drivers license, job training, education, seeking employment and apartment hunting. The first several months at MCC are devoted to personal growth, basic finances, parenting, relapse prevention, interpersonal communication, mental health, and peer support groups.
MCC encourages its residents to pursue a certificate at Lemon Hill adult school before entering the workforce. Successful MCC residents are trained, employed and ready to move by the time their two years are complete.
Holly earned an Associate’s degree in social sciences from Sacramento City College. She then Bachelor’s at CSU Sacramento degree in 2009. She works for a small nonprofit assists sex workers in the Oak Park area. She completed an internship at Next Move, assisting other families as they battled issues similar to her own. Holly completed her Master’s degree in Social Work in 2011 and is currently on the Next Move Board of Directors.
The Brown Family
Six years ago, William Brown and his four young children were living in a car after William’s wife abandoned the family. William was determined to provide a better life for his children, so he turned to Next Move’s Family Shelter for help.
For 60 days the Brown family had a place to live, three meals a day, toiletries, diapers and other essentials. A Case Manager and Housing Specialist helped the family access services and provided job and landlord referrals. William took classes on budgeting, finances, anger management, parenting, relapse prevention and self-esteem. The children participated in tutoring, a computer lab, and crafts.
The Brown family moved into their own home in 2002. The family soon formed Children of God, Inc., a gospel group that includes Mr. Brown, his son Leerteese, 16, and daughters Sabrina, 14, Brenda, 12, and Valerie, 8. Many of the songs the family sings are written by Sabrina, who wrote her first song, Jesus Taught Me How to Love, at 10 years old. She is the group’s lead singer and was the homecoming queen for the Grant Chargers youth football team.
William said that he can’t imagine where he and his children would be today if they had been turned away from Next Move due to a lack of funding, overcrowding, or a change in the policy that accepts fathers with children.
Hello, my name is Carol. I reside at Mather Community Campus, Family Side. I live with my son, Tyler, who is 12, and my husband Tim. In August 2003, my husband and I had finally hit bottom. We were addicts and out of control. We lost our kids, our jobs, our house and finally ourselves. We ended up on the streets of Sacramento and eventually at Loaves and Fishes.
Then we went to Salvation Army. We were told for us to get clean and sober then other things will come. I still remember being confused and hating myself for losing my children, so much I didn’t want to live. While living at Salvation Army I started attending bible study. My head was getting clearer my heart was getting filled and my spirit was being fed. All I really know is this, without a doubt, God saved me. I got clean and sober September 8, 2003. CPS had told me in August my children didn’t want to live with me. I changed my life after that. I was now very active in helping others at Salvation Army and was meeting all the requirements for family reunification. I applied for housing at several places and remembered thinking I want my family together. On November 20, 2003, I went on my Mather tour. During this time I was encouraged to keep a journal and this is what I had to say on that day. “Very nice place and looks like a nice place to fix me.” Little did I know just how much? In February 2004, I moved into Mather on the single side. I was excited and scared. I never lived alone before. My children in CPS and my husband in recovery, I was on my own.
My case manager revealed a plan to start to fix me. By June 16 2004, my son came home and I was moved to Mather family side. What I can say today is that without everyone’s help I wouldn’t be where I am today and because I had so much help my case with CPS was closed. I graduated drug court. I went to classes at Mather that changed my outlook on life like Anger management, Life skills, Interpersonal communications, Parenting and Parenting lab, and classes that helped with job readiness. When Tyler came home he was like many of the children who have gone through the system. He was angry and confused and had no self-esteem; his grades were D’s and F’s. Next Move’s Children’s Services helped Tyler where I couldn’t. Children’s Services is much more than just babysitters. My child was given a youth case manager. They met weekly and he rebelled at first. After a while he came around and responded. Tyler now spends a lot of time with his case manager and several others. Tyler has completed all of his classes here such as Life skills and he just completed a ten-week course called Youth Outreach Group. Additionally, Tyler was involved in volunteer work and job readiness, which included work in the community, making their resumes and being interviewed. This was good for my son. Tyler now has all A’s on his report card except for P.E. and that’s a B. Children services have helped my son with his self-esteem so much.
I know without all that we’ve learned we couldn’t be as ready as we are. I will miss everyone. Special thanks to our case managers, our Directors, Administration and Children’s Services and support staff and all our friends at Mather Community Campus.