I started out in the Home Visiting program as a participant 10 years ago and now I volunteer. I grew up in a very rural part of northern Idaho. My family struggled due to lack of education and resources while I was growing up. When I was 16, my parents had a rough divorce that left my mom trying to support 5 kids. As the oldest, I did my best to help care for my siblings and work to help my mom pay some bills. College was never encouraged and by the time I turned twenty I had gotten married and had two boys.
My husband and I moved out of our small community to Boise because there weren't many jobs available in our community. When we moved to we hardly knew anyone; we had pretty much left our whole support system behind. I didn't know much about being a mom, all I knew was what I had seen growing up. Shortly after moving, I was referred to BabySteps, one of three Family Strengthening programs offered by Family Advocates, which is a site-based, incentive-based program that provides education, support, and resources to low income families. They connected me to a parent educator. She completely changed my whole life. She stayed with me about 5 years and provided me with so much knowledge and support surrounding development and parenting. She would bring activities that I could replicate easily at home at little or no cost. She taught me about development and helped both of my boys in areas where they were behind.
My marriage was very dysfunctional and stressful. We were always hurting for money due to my husband's poor spending habits and his getting in trouble with the law. I was also a stay at home mom because we couldn't afford daycare for two children on the type of wage I would receive if I did work. My parent educator was my support system through it all. She helped me see my strengths and it's because of her support that I eventually had the courage to leave my husband, enroll at BSU, and work towards a better life. Even with our hard times, my boys were still learning and developing the way that they should because of the support of Family Advocates and my parent educator.
My two boys are doing amazing now, getting A's and B's and loving school. I'll be graduating May of 2016 from the social work program, which is huge considering I never thought I'd go to college. I ended up accepting an internship at the Department of Juvenile Corrections and I applied for the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award and won the local award! Then I found out in March that they sent it on to regional level and I won first place there! It's an award for women to help them reach their goals. It's based on efforts and what has been done in the community.
I cannot imagine where I would be today without the support of Family Advocates.