This is the story of Jessica, a young woman who has found hope, courage and strength through A New Leaf. Her story could be that of thousands of others.
Jessica grew up in a series of group homes from the age of 5. She never really knew what it meant to have a loving family or a solid support system beneath her feet. “You could say I was a troubled kid,” she said. She had a daughter at 20, then a few years later, two boys.
About three years ago, her life came crashing down. She tried her best to provide for her family, but there were challenges. She could not afford a baby sitter, then lost her job. She was evicted from her home. “I was depressed,” she recalled. She described a sinking feeling, not just for herself but for her family. Was she starting one more generation of poverty for her children?
Not long after, A New Leaf entered her life. She began to believe she could break this cycle of homelessness and poverty. After a short period of time in a homeless shelter, Jessica moved to La Mesita Apartments, a stepping-stone to independence. With their basic needs of safety and shelter met, and with A New Leaf’s support system, Jessica’s family started to flourish. These resources help our families transform from crisis to stability and self-reliance.
Opened by A New Leaf in 2014, La Mesita Apartments has 80 units of affordable housing, with 30 reserved for families and individuals who are transitioning from homelessness or homeless with special needs. La Mesita has a range of support services for adults, including case management, goal setting, referrals, a computer lab that is an Arizona at Work Access Point, Health and Wellness Center. For children, there is an after-school program, fun activities, field trips and Head Start program.
“Living here took barriers off me. And it’s been great for my kids,” Jessica said. Her daughter, who is eight, gets help with after-school tutoring. “She loves the after-school program. She loves Miss Christine, the one who runs it. They also helped out with things like clothing, car seats, shoes.” Staff encouraged Jessica to consider ways to better her workplace skills. So she took night classes to be a medical assistant. It took her a year, but she graduated in October and is determined to find a job in her field. “To be honest, I don’t know what I would have done without A New Leaf,” Jessica said. “The people here gave me confidence. I feel much better about the future of my children. And my daughter is already on the path – she is on the honor roll at school.”
Jessica has made many friends at A New Leaf. To her, they are a shoulder to lean on, a guiding hand when she might have felt lost. She describes them as family. “Here’s how I would put it: A New Leaf gives you a hand up, so you get back on your feet. Then you realize you can walk. After a while, you feel like you can run. For all those who donate to A New Leaf, you should know you are helping thousands of families like mine. I just know I am going to make it. I have this confidence that I can be what I want to be and have that for my children.”