YWCA Madison hopes this holiday season finds you and your family well. This is a time where we naturally find ourselves reflecting on the past year; at YWCA Madison we’re thinking about what we’ve worked to change, the stands we’ve taken, the lessons we’ve learned.
Thinking back over 2018, the work we’ve done and the change we’ve experienced as an organization and as a community. This year we focused on the word “Reclaiming” as we upheld our mission through programs, events, and advocacy. Through it, we impacted over 5,000 women, children and people of color. We are grateful for all that you and the community have done to stand with us and the individuals we serve. I invite you to support us in the coming year.
Our annual appeal features the story of a woman who embodies the mission of what we do. As you will see, Latisha is someone who has worked hard to transform her life and make it better for herself and her son. She shares about the work, the strategy, the practice and discipline that can help achieve goals. This is what empowerment looks like – it’s a model where potential is realized and individuals have the opportunity to take control of their futures.
“You’ll be ok, even though sometimes you feel like you won’t.” Latisha isn’t shy about sharing her journey; the amount of work and discipline she invested to achieve the stability she and her son have now.
As she sits in her warm two-bedroom apartment, her son, Mekiel, creates sound effects for his transformers before stopping to smile at his mom. The living room overlooks a colorful playground and the school where Mekiel attends first grade and participates in after-school programming. He’s proud of his room, showing off decorations, toys, and his lofted bed.
Latisha has invested a lot of time and work to get to this place of independence with the guidance of mentors and case managers who helped shape goals and taught her to build an action plan with achievable steps along the way. Latisha laughs as she recounts that when she first moved into Third Street – the YWCA Madison housing program for single moms– one of her goals was to get a new truck. “Nancy (the Third Street Case Manager) encouraged me to prioritize goals in terms of what was most important to me and my son, which helped me put a stable apartment for my son and education for myself before getting a new truck.” But Latisha faced a few hurdles. “I owed about $3,500 to a previous landlord, and Nancy challenged me to tackle it.” It took an entire year, but Latisha created a strict budget and stuck to it. The experience started to change her entire outlook: “I said to myself ‘Dang, I can really do it. Stop saying you can’t do it!’”
And then she decided to take a huge leap of faith to invest in herself and Mekiel’s future: she quit her two part-time jobs to participate in YWeb Career Academy, a 15 week full-time boot camp-style coding course for women and people of color, relying on money she’s saved to make it through those months. The course teaches coding and other IT skills highly desired by employers and graduating from the program has opened opportunities for many; and Latisha was willing to put the work in.
She is pretty honest about the intensity of the experience, “Well,” she said, “I cried every day. It’s like learning another language! But what I really learned was who I really am. I didn’t know I was capable of finishing the course … and not just finishing, but really understanding.” After completing this training she was able to land a position in a company that pays well and treats her with respect. Unlike previous jobs, this role gives her flexibility to care for her son and allows her to work remotely when he’s unwell or off school. This stability has allowed her to focus on being the best mom she can, while being a strong employee.
And she’s not done yet; Latisha continues to dream about what’s next for her and her son. “What I want people to know,” she says, “is that you gotta keep trying. Don’t give up, even when it’s hard. Write out your goals, and knock them out. Even if it takes a year.” She smiles again as she says, “And now that we are in our apartment, caught up on bills, and able to save a little, I did get that new truck.”
Latisha’s story is a little like all of ours; learning how to prioritize goals and set realistic but steady goals, and working hard to make them happen. She’s thankful for the skills she learned through YWCA Madison, and the space and time she was given to work towards goals.
Your support will allow more families to access housing programs, attend training programs, or participate in other YWCA Madison programs.