Individual Success Story
From facing homelessness to receiving a Fresh Start scholarship that allowed her to get her real estate license, Jaylene was able to transform her life, achieve self-sufficiency, and use her strength to thrive.
TW: Sexual assault
Jaylene’s* story of bravery and resilience begins with a traumatic event no one should ever endure.
“It’s hard to tell this story,” she shares quietly. “So many people go through this stuff in their life, you know?”
In 2016, Jaylene was raped. The devastating encounter set her life on a downward spiral.
“It broke me to my core. I was flat-out broken and losing who I was until I completely lost myself,” says Jaylene.
“I wasn’t present for my children. I wasn’t present for my career.” By 2018, Jaylene had to step away from her corporate job while also navigating a difficult divorce.
Struggling, Jaylene fought to make ends meet. She was working three minimum-wage jobs to provide for herself and her three children, but when her landlord moved to increase her rent beyond what she was able to afford, she found herself on the edge of crisis. Jaylene and her family were facing homelessness.
In that moment of urgent need, Jaylene was referred to Fresh Start by her mother’s friend.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, but I walked into the door, went to the front desk receptionist, and was like, ‘I need help. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I need help.’ And that’s where the journey began.”
Fresh Start staff worked to connect Jaylene to low-income housing, ensuring that she and her children had a safe place to live. She also received legal assistance through Family Law Support, a resource that helped her navigate her divorce and issues with IRS debt.
Jaylene started taking workshops on healthy boundaries, effective communication, goal setting, and financial management. With increasing certainty in each step forward, she was proud of her progress.
“You get the basics down of what you really need in life and that’s where it starts,” she shares. “You soon begin to realize, ‘All right, I can do this. I can absolutely do this. I can stand on my own two feet, I can raise my children, and I can figure this out.’”
Empowered by having regained stability and her forward momentum, Jaylene’s growth continued. She went on to successfully complete Fresh Start’s “Dream Builder” program, a course that helps women develop and implement their small business plans.
“Dream Builder was there to help provide me with the steps on…well, how to literally build a dream—how to get to that next step in your life when you didn’t realize these things were even possible,” says Jaylene, “I took the course and started thinking, ‘What else is possible?’”
Through Dream Builder, Jayleen discovered a new passion and path forward: she wanted to become a real estate agent. Jaylene applied for Fresh Start’s E. Jean Goulet Workforce scholarship, a funding resource that helps women pursue career-enhancing opportunities by removing some of the financial burden.
The scholarship covered the costs of Jaylene’s real estate classes, and after successfully taking and passing her real estate exam, she received her license.
In 2019, within her first year as a real estate agent, Jaylene received an award for being a top-producing agent. Now, in 2022, Jaylene is earning a six-figure income and has the flexibility to support her kids.
“I am so thankful for Fresh Start—for what they’ve done for me—because I know it is portrayed to my kids, too. … I am proud of myself. I did it. And I am still doing it!” she shares with a laugh, “There is still so much to accomplish.”
Jaylene’s story is an example of Fresh Start’s mission in action: creating unlimited opportunities for women by providing access and resources that help them achieve self-sufficiency and use their strength to thrive.