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Your Support Changes Lives

When you support WFSA, you help achieve long-lasting change. Every dollar you invest multiplies more than six-fold for women in Southern Arizona through new housing and employment opportunities; increased income, assets and savings: and decreased debt. Behind every one of our funding partnerships that your gifts make possible are countless stories of neighbors, mothers and friends in Southern Arizona who are better off-and whose entire families and communities are better off because of their success.
Aylin’s Story with Earn to Learn
“No dejes para mañana, lo que puedes hacer hoy” (don’t put off until tomorrow what you can accomplish today). Aylin heard this phrase often throughout her childhood and still today. Her mother’s words have been a constant source of motivation and inspiration for Aylin’s decision to go to college to study law and make an impact on the United States legal system. Going to college wasn’t guaranteed for Aylin.  As a young person, Aylin observed inequalities in the services and support available to her immigrant mother. And thus, Aylin’s passion for becoming an immigration lawyer was born .Life-Changing Outcome: Now a University of Arizona junior double majoring in political science and law with a minor in Spanish, Aylin credits Earn to Learn for boosting her confidence in the idea that college was possible. When reviewing her overall financial aid award information, Aylin felt nervous about taking out loans. With her Earn to Learn matched savings scholarship the burden was reduced. Aylin immediately got a job to earn money needed to make her monthly savings deposits. Each month it got easier and upon reaching her $500 goal she realized that saving was not difficult. The $4,000 match for each academic year took the pressure off of her tuition balance. She has invested $1,500 of her own money into her education and received an additional $12,000 matched grant bringing her total award to $13,500 towards her tuition.  Through Earn to Learn’s ongoing financial education she developed her financial know-how. This education has reduced stress so she can focus on her coursework. In March of 2018, Aylin accepted a position at a local immigration lawyer’s office. She knows that real-world experience is necessary if she is going to be successful after graduation next year. 
Adrian’s Story with Emerge! Center against Domestic Violence 
Adriana left her family and a successful career in Mexico after having been courted by a childhood friend who lived in Tucson. She was excited about his vision of sharing a life together in the United States. Once married and settled in Tucson, Adriana’s husband began to use abusive behaviors, such as making degrading remarks and forcing her to have intimate relations when she did not want to. Adriana was now isolated in a community where she did not have the support system she once had in Mexico. She didn’t speak English and her husband threatened to have her deported if she disobeyed him. During a medical appointment, Adriana disclosed the abuse to her doctor and the doctor provided her with Emerge’s hotline. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to call the hotline, but one afternoon an argument with her husband escalated when he punched her, and she knew she needed to get help. Life-Changing Outcome: After calling the hotline, Adriana entered Emerge’s emergency shelter and started receiving support services. When Adriana arrived at shelter, she struggled with feeling sadness, anxiousness and was fearful about her future with all that she had endured. Emerge staff helped Adriana understand the dynamics of abuse, provided emotional support and encouraged her as she began practicing healthy coping skills. Adriana then entered Emerge’s Renewal Housing Stabilization Program to receive further support in attaining housing stability. Another goal for Adriana was to develop and strengthen relationships within the community so she would have a support system. It wasn’t long before she was ready to move into her apartment. Now, Adriana has a new apartment, is connected with a therapist, attends Emerge’s support groups, studies English and is pursuing job training. Perhaps one of her greatest accomplishments is that she is now able to effectively navigate resources in her community and has a positive support system that she can call on during hard times. 
A.S.’s Story with Compass Affordable Housing
A.S.  is a single mom, with an adorable son and a very young veteran who has experienced domestic violence and still relied on her ex-husband.   Compass Affordable Housing’s Tenant Services started engaging with A.S. in September 2017 and at that time she was receiving Housing Assistance and no childcare.  It was a slow process for her to emerge from her isolation and take advantage of services and open up to staff. Life-Changing Outcome: Staff were able to get A.S. to attend their Veteran events and programs first and then met and spent time with her six year old son. Over time she was willing to meet with the staff one-on-one and she agreed to access other services. During this time Compass Affordable Housing began an on-site partnership with the Department of Economic Security’s Veteran program that meets with veterans on-site every two weeks and sponsors events and employment search workshops as well as one-on-one assistance.  A.S. has come out of her shell and now talks to her neighbors, participates in events, and frequently visits Tenant Services.  In addition, she is now working full-time, has transportation, receives childcare and is on track to take over her rent herself.  These changes have given her confidence and has been transformative.
Becca’s Story with Our Family Services 
Becca*, a pregnant single mom, was in imminent danger of eviction.  Through Our Family Services, she was provided short-term rental assistance. They connected her with a mental health provider and coached her to successfully advocate for better hours at work. With solid footing at home, Becca improved her budgeting skills, stabilized her income, and has begun renewing her caregiving certification.(*Name changed to protect privacy) Life Changing Outcome: At Our Family Services, they measure SUCCESS in lives changed…and they house ~ 300 people every night. Eighty-four percent of the youth and families they serve transition to permanent housing and financial stability.
Beth’s Story with the Community Food Bank
Beth spent six years in prison for forgery and identity theft, having been a drug addict for years. When she first came home she was hopeful, thinking someone would hire her and give her a chance, but no one did. Hope was quickly lost when she couldn’t find a job, and was like she destroyed her whole life. Then she saw an ad for Caridad. It sounded too good to be true, but she applied and was accepted, changed her life. Life Changing Outcome: Caridad is an amazing program. She tell everybody about it. It taught Beth the skills she needed to get a job and keep a job, and it gave her an amazing support system. She shared that it’s been so meaningful in her life, knowing that people really do care. Beth wants others who might be in a situation like her, thinking they can’t go anywhere in life, to know that there is hope, that you can change your life. 
Jailene’s Story with Youth On Their Own 
Story taken directly from Jailene’s scholarship essay.“As a child, I was in and out of different homes because of how irresponsible my parents were. It was ridiculous how many times I had to move schools and how socially unstable I was. I felt lonely and as if I was a bother in life. My brothers and I lived in about 5 or 6 different homes because my mother worked a minimum-wage job due to her lack of a high school diploma. She didn’t have enough money to support us, so one day she decided it was best for her to move to Canada and leave us with different family members. I never even had the chance to tell my mom about my first kiss, or to have someone to turn to for advice and protection.” Life Changing Outcome: Jailene saw her mother struggle in ways a mother shouldn’t need to. The older she got, the more she understand the difficulties her mother faced in putting food on the table, paying the bills, and supplying their family with other necessities. She realize how much she didn’t want to live a similar life. She believes that her past shaped her into the person she is today. Jailene shared “People might expect me to already have a child, never go to college, and never even make it out of high school. I’m proud to say I turned out to be the total opposite, now about to graduate and attend the University of Arizona! What I want most is to become a pediatrician to help others and to start a family with someone I love. I want to give my children everything I never received. My goal to become a pediatrician will be much tougher than other careers, but the rewards are much bigger. Since I was small I’ve always had an interest in helping others. I want to believe I can make a change in this world.” Jailene graduated from Desert View High School in the spring of 2017 with a 3.09 GPA and began attending the University of Arizona in the fall of 2018.
Marcela’s Story with The Primavera Foundation 
Marcela came to Primavera in 2014 as a participant in the Her Family program, a financial empowerment program for mothers and daughters. Life Changing Outcome: Marcela graduated from the program in 2015 and was interested in purchasing a home. Her income was too low to qualify for a loan, but that was not the end of Marcela’s first-time homebuyer journey. Celia, Primavera’s Co-director of HomeOwnership, worked with other organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, to help Marcela realize her dream of homeownership. Marcela completed her sweat equity time with Habitat while taking Homebuyer Education classes at Primavera. Today Marcela owns her own home, which was purchased in 2016 using a 0% interest loan from Habitat. Primavera set Marcela up for success as a first-time homebuyer by educating her on how to manage her money and maintain her home. Marcela’s story is a testament to her hard work and perseverance, as well as to the role that collaboration plays in Primavera’s work to help women gain financial stability.
Naimo’s Story with International Rescue Committee
Naimo and her father came to Tucson in 2013.Originally from Somalia, Naimo’s family fled to Saudi Arabia when she was very young.  She attended a British high school where she learned English and upon graduating worked as a stylist at a high-end salon in the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah. Naimo admits she did not live the life of a typical refugee and fully understood that she would have to start from the beginning in order to build a life in America. Life Changing Outcome: Naimo was eager to learn about the American workplace, how to search for jobs online and tips for successful interviewing – all which she was taught in Refugee Program-funded JRT.  Naimo’s father was ill and unable to work, and the responsibility to support the household fell entirely on Naimo. While she was willing to accept a housekeeping job, the IRC found Naimo a job at an eyebrow threading boutique where she worked for two years. Naimo didn’t expect to find her dream job when she came to the U.S. and was especially grateful for the opportunity to build her skills and her résumé all while pursuing her passion. Naimo was recently hired as an on-call interpreter and casework assistant at the IRC. Her career goals have changed, she now hopes to study interpretation at the UofA.
Patient Story with Planned Parenthood 
“After the 2016 election, I was afraid that under the new administration I would not be able to access affordable birth control. I chose to get the Paragard IUD. The nurse and doctor who took me through the process were extremely clear about the procedure, the expected pain, and Planned Parenthood AZ’s disclosure policies for minors. I feel completely confident in their ability to offer such a service and I am, overall, very happy I got the IUD.” Life Changing Outcome: Long-acting reproductive contraception prevents teen pregnancy, reduces abortions and empowers thousands of young women to make their own choices on when or whether to start a family.
Sarah’s Story with Interfaith Community Services, Single Mom Scholars 
Sarah shared “I began working in the medical field at age 16 as a Certified Nursing Assistant.  Growing up in a single-parent low-income home with a number of struggles, I eventually fell victim to the cycle and became pregnant at age 15, causing me to drop out of high school. I wanted my children to have more options than I did and didn’t want them to repeat this cycle. I earned my GED and moved to Tucson to pursue a college education.Pursuing a degree as a single mom is a significant challenge in itself, but even more so, pursuing a degree in the medical field as a single mom is nearly impossible without a support system. In addition to finding time for homework and to study, you have to factor in 12 hour unpaid days dedicated to hands on training for your program. When I was accepted into Single Mom Scholars (SMS), I had just been turned away from government assistance because I was going to school and not working. My first clinical rotation was coming up, and I had no idea how I was going to make ends meet. Life Changing Outcome: Single Mom Scholars provided the financial cushion she needed to focus on school and a network of strong influential women that motivated and supported her every step of the way. Whether it was fixing her car or involving her family in activities and outings, she could not afford, SMS was by her side the entire time.  SMS also connected her with a Soroptomist Desert Tucson opportunity where she was recognized with a Live Your Dream award for her achievements. Sarah graduated from Pima Medical Institute in 2017 and was the first in her class to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist. She now works for Honorhealth in Phoenix and makes more than 6x what she was making before graduation. She’s planning to continue her education with the dream of becoming a Perfusionist (managing heart-lung machine during bypass surgeries). She is the mother to two amazing boys, ages 3 and 8, and wants nothing more than to provide a strong foundation for them to be successful. 
Theresa’s Story with Literacy Connects 
Theresa, 32, immigrated to the United States from Liberia in her twenties with the equivalent of an eighth grade education. When Theresa, a mother of four young children, first went to Literacy Connects she was desperate for help with her reading and writing so she could get a job and help support her family. Life Changing Outcome: Theresa worked hard with her one-to-one tutor to improve her reading and writing skills. After about six months, she found employment as a caregiver in an assisted living facility. She tells the story of a deaf woman she attended to and how she had to write on a white board to communicate with her. Theresa shared “I was so nervous at first, my hand would shake when I wrote.” adding, “Thanks to help from my tutor, I became more confident and I felt better at my job.” Theresa has persisted in improving her reading and writing and recently she got a new job at a caregiving facility in which she has taken on more responsibility and earns higher wages. She said “I don’t know how I would have done this without Literacy Connects. I felt so isolated and discouraged before I came here. You make it so people like me can find their way and follow their dreams. Thank you.” 
Vondi’s Story With The Haven 
Molested as a child by her babysitter, Vondi became promiscuous as a teenager giving birth to her first child at the age of 15. By the age of 23 she was raising five children as a single mom and her children often witnessed the bruises and broken bones from domestic violence. It was during this time that Vondi began experimenting with alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. In 2001, while working as a bookkeeper for a law firm, she became ill and required surgery. With just one “magic pill”, she was able to return to work and do anything she put her mind to. The pain disappeared, but the need for pills remained. She went to the street where the availability of pills is unbelievable. Then, in 2011, the pills came back into her life as she suffered from grief and loss of five loved ones. To support her disease of addiction, she embezzled from her employer. Terminated from her position, lacking finances, she could turn to heroin or withdraw. She chose to withdraw. Life Changing Outcome: The Haven is where her recovery began.  She learned self-respect, coping skills, the 12 steps, accountability, boundaries how to be honest with herself, and love for herself.  Detoxing at home led to excruciating pain and Vondi considered ending her life. Her daughter took her to detox. Three days later, she reluctantly consented to go to The Haven and stayed for a total of seven months. In 2013 she was incarcerated for the embezzlement. In prison, she was determined to have a positive attitude in this place of darkness, Vondi learned her purpose in life: “I was not only to spread His loving word to the lost, but to help women and their families who have been impacted by incarceration.” Vondi was hired at The Haven after her release from prison. She works as a Case Aide. She is active in her church, Redroad to Wellbriety, Simply Red and she volunteers her extra time to assist those lost to addiction and reentry from prison.