Making sure that everyone in Contra Costa County has access to safe, affordable housing is a central component of Hope Solutions’ mission. However, for our clients, getting re-housed is often just the first step on a long road towards independence and financial security. Just as important are the essential services and opportunities that Hope Solutions provides to clients once they are housed, specifically tailored to help them achieve their goals.
The McGrath-Kennedy Education award provides financial incentives for both present and former Hope Solutions clients who choose to pursue education or employment training. The grant has so far awarded $16,000 to clients completing GED’s, receiving High School diplomas, earning college credits, and more!
One Hope Solutions client who has benefited greatly from the education award is Mia.
Growing up in Contra Costa, Mia experienced a difficult childhood; both her parents lived with substance addictions, and her father was often in and out of jail, meaning that Mia spent her early years living with her grandparents. Studies show that children of parents with substance use disorders (SUDs) have a greatly increased risk of developing SUDs themselves, and by the age of 12, Mia was using drugs. Dealing with her addictions throughout middle school and high school, Mia became disillusioned with education, skipping class and getting into trouble.
After attending Continuation High School, Mia earned her high school diploma, but her SUD led to her getting into more trouble and distancing herself from loved ones. However, in 2019, when Mia turned 21, she decided that she wanted to change her life for the better and get clean, enrolling to study for an Associate Degree in veterinary science. She and her mother soon became full-time living assistants for her grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, her grandmother passed away in March 2020, leaving Mia and her mother unhoused and unable to afford the rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the county she had grown up in.
Mia then turned to Hope Solutions, where she became a client of the homeless youth program. Mia and her mother were rehoused in October 2021, meaning that Mia could finally turn her attention to earning her degree. Soon after being rehoused, Mia was made aware that she qualified for assistance from the McGrath-Kennedy Education Fund. This extra financial support was the boost Mia needed to finally earn her degree, helping to alleviate the burden of tuition costs. With her new degree in hand, Mia started a new position and has already earned a raise!
Mia is now three years clean, has an apartment, and is a Registered Veterinary Technician working at an animal hospital. She is thankful for her Hope Solutions team, in particular her Housing Navigator, Nick, and her Case Manager, Felix, for their support – “I’m truly grateful for them and couldn’t have asked for a better team.” Mia’s strength and determination to succeed is an inspiration for us all.
This article was first published in the 2022 Spring/Summer Homepage Newsletter.