Doristene knows what it means to live close to the edge, and what it means to fall over it as well. But she also knows what it means to get up again and stand tall. Paying for a $420-a-month apartment, with four mouths to feed and making $6.20 an-hour, Doristene was just scraping by at the beginning of last year. Then one day, she was laid-off from her job at a small therapy center; and paying for a place for she and her four children became impossible.
Doristene tried living with relatives, but it did not work. So, she spoke with her children, and decided to come to Chapman Partnership. “I’m really, really grateful my family was allowed to come here” said Doristene, 36. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. They made me feel like I wasn’t homeless.”
Today, Doristene and her family do not live at the center. She landed full-time employment through Job Corps and even has benefits, like health insurance, that cover her family. Once again, she has her own place; but this time her future looks much brighter. Doristene’s oldest son is getting ready to graduate from high school next year; and as soon as she reaches full self-sufficiency, she plans to further her own education. Her son plans on becoming an electrician. Doristene even credits the center’s case managers with helping her improve her emotional well-being. Before, her attitude was to just sit around and feel sorry for herself. She now takes charge, because she knows she holds the key to her future. She has “gone far in raising her self-esteem,” Haynes said. Today, she works as a cooking assistant at the cafeteria in the Homestead Job Corps Center just outside Homestead Air Force Reserve base. She earns about $15,000 a year, still below the poverty line for a family of five. But as she eases into life, Doristene still receives some help in paying her bills. But Doristene is confident that with raises, and as she furthers her education, she can improve her financial situation.
Besides working for herself and her family, Doristene also volunteers at the center where she once lived; and she has become involved in the parent group at the center’s daycare. Haynes also credits Chapman Partnership for helping in her family’s situation. While she works, her oldest child looks after the other three and picks them up from their after-school programs. Doristene said the family works as a team. “One of my younger kids was a problem child,” Haynes said. “But they have different programs for the kids here, and today he is well-adjusted. We’re a closer family today than we were a year ago. This is a blessing.”