Success Stories

High-Rise Goals:
A Beautiful Story Of Achievement

Christayl’s dream was to leave the West Side of Chicago and move with her children to a downtown high-rise. Living on the West Side was rough. Her apartment was in disrepair, and repeated complaints about pest infestations went unanswered. She had always worked, mostly temporary jobs, but it was never enough to move. One year ago, Christayl found The Journey Forward and began working towards her goals.

Raising her children in the daily mix of violence and uncertainty took a toll on her spirit and will. But she would remember that dream of a high-rise and decided she was tired of asking, “Why don’t you have a better life?” and decided to make a change.

When Christayl started working with The Journey Forward, her credit score was in the low 500s, significantly reducing her housing options. Christayl enrolled in financial workshops at The Journey Forward and enrolled in the Family-Centered Coaching program. She worked with a Financial Counselor on budgeting, improving her credit score, paying down credit cards, managing her student loan debt, and building savings. Her Family Coach provided valuable resources that helped her access furniture and other essential supports. Working with our partner, E&ES, she began setting career goals. Each session, she gained knowledge and confidence to improve her life.

Christayl secured a permanent job at a Chicago nonprofit. With a credit score in the 700s, she was able to move her family to a downtown high-rise and fulfill her dream.

“I’m living the life I’ve always imagined. This is the first furnished apartment we’ve had in six years,” she said.

“We belong here, just like everyone else in this building. My older kids say that they are so proud of me. I’ve never heard that from them before. My six-year-old actually woke up one day and said, ‘I’m on top of the world.”

“Now I can buy my kid’s vitamins, as well as dumbbells to work out with,” she added. “I take yoga. I’ve got time to live!”

This was not an easy journey for Christyal; she worked hard and made significant changes to create a better life for her family.

“We Are Stronger Together”

When Dana started services with The Journey Forward, her life seemed overwhelming. Recently released from incarceration, she wasn’t sure where or how to rebuild her life. Reentering society was challenging, and she had concerns about employment with her background. Her parole officer referred her to The Journey Forward at the Martin Luther King Community Service Center. When Dana arrived at the Journey Forward, her Family Coach, Juanita, listened carefully and compassionately to her needs and goals. Juanita connected Dana with a team of people committed to helping her. They kept her motivated, accountable, and hopeful. 

Dana’s Family Coach recommended our free Money Talks workshops. She was inspired by what she learned in the workshops; she signed on for one-on-one financial counseling sessions. As a result, Dana learned about budgeting, how to avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck, and how to save for her future. Through The Journey Forward, Dana also worked with a certified clinician on coping skills, stress management, and social and emotional needs specific to her family.

She carried her fresh outlook and determined spirit to our partner E&ES where she received workforce training and support. Through E&ES, Dana gained access to WIOA (Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act) funding which allowed her to start training for her Commercial Driver’s License, free of charge. With the help of her Career Navigator, she updated her resume and had access to Job Readiness Training workshops.  Soon she landed a good-paying job at UPS. 

Now that Dana is employed full-time, she is studying and making plans to open her own business. Her advice to those who aren’t sure if they should reach out for help is, “Patience really is a virtue. Try not to take things for granted because there really are people here to help you figure out how to move forward”.

Partnerships are a vital part of The Journey Forward’s success. Together, we are stronger, and together, we can heal, strengthen, and advance our communities.