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Individual Success Story


“I realized that I was going to lose my children. I didn’t want anyone else to care for them, because no one was going to care for them the way I cared for them, and the way I loved them. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Fresh Start. I had to learn how to be self-sufficient and Fresh Start paved that road for me…”

She’s Hired!

Angelina faced and overcame many challenges in her life, but nothing compared to the pivotal events that led her to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in 2006.   

Blue and red lights flashed in the rearview mirror as Angelina rode in the car with her husband and their three-year-old son. Their tires exited the asphalt and crunched on gravel and before she knew it, handcuffs clinked tight on her hands. Angelina saw a possible future without her three children. 
That day in 2006, her husband was on the way to a drug deal when he was intercepted by the police. Angelina, who had never been in trouble in her entire life, was taken to jail with him and eventually convicted. 

In the days leading up to her sentencing, Angelina was afraid for the sake of her children. She developed anxiety and suffered from panic attacks as she faced the reality of losing her husband, who was sentenced to years in prison, and the fact that she jeopardized her children’s futures.  

“I realized that I was going to lose my children. That’s what really did it. I didn’t want anyone else to care for them, because no one was going to care for them the way I cared for them, and the way I loved them. I didn’t have a supportive mother, my mom was always on an emotional rollercoaster and for most of my childhood, that impacted me. So, when I became a mother, that was the most important and most valuable thing to me: my three children.” 

Since she had a clean history, the judge deferred Angelina’s jail sentence for one year so she could get her personal matters in order before reporting for her one-year jail sentence. She would be required to turn herself in on January 1, 2008. 

“I realized that this life was not for me, and I needed to start redirecting it and find some support. I made the decision that I had to cut all ties with my husband because he wasn’t a good influence on me, my family, or my children.” 

In January 2007, with a looming year of jail time, Angelina found Fresh Start and utilized the Family Law Support services to begin filing for divorce while her husband was in prison. At a time when she had suddenly become a single parent, Angelina received much-needed assistance and advice from a legal team, free of charge.  

“When I would leave Fresh Start, I would feel recharged – like the energizer bunny, like someone put a little battery in me so I could just keep going and going.” 

Angelina spent time in self-empowerment courses and workshops to learn how to practice self-care and create healthy boundaries. 

“I was so scared at first, but gradually, participating in other workshops at Fresh start, helped me overcome my fears. My year that was deferred from jail time was pretty much the year that I did not lose sight of Fresh Start. Anything Fresh Start offered; I was taking advantage of it.” 

Angelina thinks of Fresh Start as her safe place, the light at the end of the tunnel. Within Fresh Start’s doors she could step out of everything that was going on in her personal life and feel positive energy, encouragement and support.  

While Fresh Start supported Angelina’s personal, emotional, and legal needs, during her deferred year, she was required to participate in supervised probation. Her parole officer connected her with DES for job training and Angelina was hired by an employer who agreed to give her a second chance and overlook her criminal record.  

Her year of deferred time came to a close and after the holiday season, Angelina began panicking about her report day in the New Year. But on the Friday before the New Years Weekend, Angelina received a phone call.  

“My parole officer called me, and she said: ‘Hey Angelina, I have some good news. You don’t have to turn yourself in on Monday. I told them all the things you were doing at Fresh Start and how you went to job training and had a stable job for the past year and that you’ve been able to live in one place with your children. I really feel like you were a victim of your relationship, so I stuck my neck out for you because I think you’re gonna make it. You’re worth it,” Angelina recounted through tears.  

“I dropped to the floor. I was so grateful to Fresh Start and my probation officer and my employers who hired me even with the criminal record,” she said.  

Angelina went on to successfully complete her probation early and launched her life into self-sufficiency: she held both of her jobs and raised her children as a single mother. 

“I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Fresh Start. I had to learn how to be self-sufficient and Fresh Start paved that road for me to look for that self-sufficiency and encouraged me to keep trucking and moving forward toward being self-sufficient,” she smiled.  

Sixteen years later, in the Summer of 2023, Angelina was dealing with the emotional tolls of separation from her partner who had gotten involved with drugs and alcohol. She knew from her first experience with Fresh Start, that those behaviors were not something she would tolerate in her life. As she scrolled through her Facebook feed one night, she saw a familiar name. Fresh Start was advertising a “Women in Finance” scholarship.  

“I was looking for a redirection in my career,” she said. “I knew that if I came back (to Fresh Start), I would get some help with my personal life too. But my career path really drove me to come back. 

“Fresh Start this time around, has helped me through the chaos that was going on in my personal life while simultaneously helping my career. The Women in Finance program schedule has allowed me to also participate in cohorts and workshops that help with my personal life. Now, both personal and career journeys are meeting in the middle, preparing me to take the journey that I’m built to take – that Fresh Start has built me up to take,” said Angelina.  

Harness Your Power  

The Women in Finance cohort showed Angelina that there are women in leadership roles and in roles of power, but most importantly, it reminded her that she also has that power and that she had forgotten it because of the challenges in her personal life.  

“I had lost the vision and Fresh Start reminded me that my vision is going to be a continual vision. That I shouldn’t allow anything or anyone to come between me and my vision, me and my goals, me and my success, me and my power,” she stated proudly. “Fresh Start helped me get back my sparkle.” 

Generational Impact 

The first time that Angelina entered Fresh Start’s doors 16 years ago, she changed the course of her children’s childhood. Now, all three of her children are grown and working on finding their own paths and passions in life.  

“My enrollment in the Women in Finance has really impacted my daughter. My goal has been to teach them (my children) how to be successful adults and the only way I’m going to do that is by being a successful adult myself.” 

She’s Hired!  

On par with her exceptional journey forward out of the depths of adversity and challenge as a justice involved women, Angelina successfully completed the Women in Finance program and after participating in the interview day with local banks, she received several job offers! She took time for careful consideration and then accepted a job offer at Arizona Bank and Trust where she is now a Universal Banker.