Skip to Content

Individual Success Story


“I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t come to Fresh Start. I used to think of ending my life because I felt like there was no hope, but I just couldn’t leave my kids like that.” 

She’s Hired!

“I’ve had a rough life. I wasn’t out there on the street, but I took a bad turn somewhere, and it’s been hard to get back on my feet,” said JoAnna*.  

To make ends meet as a single mom, JoAnna had worked in the sex industry, but she wanted a fresh start. She came to terms with the fact that she couldn’t do it all by herself, especially when her young daughter started going down a dangerous path. 

“I felt like I wasted all these years. I just wanted to do something different with my life, show my kids something different… I started to notice my daughter getting into these relationships online, asking men for money. And it broke my heart. It was hard, and it made me realize that you reap what you sow in your kids, whether they know it or not. I wanted something different, and I kept fighting and searching,” JoAnna shared. 

JoAnna needed guidance and mentorship to make the changes that she desired.  

“I was looking for someone to take me by the hand and be like, just come this way. Fresh Start really did that for me. And just working with the women, the environment. It really helped me.” 

She heard about Fresh Start through a friend who had worked with a prosecutor who cleared charges for sex workers who were trafficked and arrested.  

“I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know what else to do. I tried everything. Job after job, it just felt like I was stuck. So, I reached out (to Fresh Start) and they reached back out to me before Christmas 2023. I was very lucky when I got into the Women in Finance program,” she recalled.  

Even though this new opportunity created a light at the end of the tunnel, the Women in Finance cohort demanded some lifestyle changes, which was sometimes challenging for JoAnna.  

“There were days I had to drag myself to class, I didn’t even shower. It was hard but I just didn’t want to quit.  ‘God, give me strength’. Even if it’s just a little bit, just enough to get me through the day,” she recalled.  

JoAnna also faced mental struggles as she weighed her self-worth and wondered if it was okay to start over.  

“I came to Fresh Start so jaded by people in general. When you’re in the sex industry, it’s rough. So, coming in here, I was scared. I wasn’t sure if people were going to know. I always felt like people saw it on me. I was so scared. But it was very refreshing. All the ladies were so nice,” 

JoAnna quickly went from hopeless to hopeful. 

“I didn’t have any hope coming in here. I was even expecting to fail. But I’m glad I stuck with it because as it started to progress, I started to see how it was helpful and how it’s going to help me.”  

In the hard moments, she found a newfound inner purpose that pushed her to continue to do more with her life. 

“The new purpose I felt within kept me going. I haven’t discovered fully what that is. But finding purpose, just feeling that sense of ‘I do have something to do’ was powerful. There was now a point in life. I was made for more. I’m not just a body.”  

Once she was at Fresh Start’s doors, her perseverance in overcoming all her struggles was worth it.  

“It’s the most comfortable and accepting and loving place I’ve ever been in. It’s a great place to start over.” 

“It’s what I looked forward to everyday, to just be here. The fight to get here was so worth it because I now feel inspired. I feel helped,” she said.  

As the days passed, JoAnna quickly formed a sisterhood with the other women in her Women in Finance cohort.  

“Even sometimes when we’d disagreed with each other in class, it was just water off the back, there was no spitefulness. It was beautiful to build relationships like that, have friends like that. It’s definitely a sisterhood and I see myself keeping in contact,”   

Though JoAnna is still determining whether finance is the right career for her, she gained confidence and transferable skills from the Women in Finance program. She now sees an empowered life ahead where she will flourish. 

“I just see myself thriving now. I don’t feel like I’m struggling anymore.  Fresh Start helped me recognize that I am equipped with foundational skills and abilities I didn’t realize I had before. I feel free. I don’t feel confined, captured, and held down like I felt before.” 

Without Fresh Start, JoAnna isn’t sure where she’d be. Though there’s still things to figure out, her life is full of hope and possibility now. 

“I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t come to Fresh Start. I used to think of ending my life because I felt like there was no hope, but I just couldn’t leave my kids like that.” 

JoAnna now has hope, not just for herself, but for her kids, especially for her daughter’s future.  

“There’s still so much more to work on. I’ve accomplished a sense of self. I feel more grounded. I feel more within myself rather than just searching for something to validate me. Now I understand that validation comes from within,” she said.  

JoAnna recommends Fresh Start to other women and hopes her story helps other women trying to leave the sex industry. 

“I hope it reaches those girls who come from where I came from. I’ve seen a lot out there, and it’s just really sad. Those girls who are taken advantage of, they feel like that’s all they’re good enough for. It’s hard, I can’t sit here and candy coat any of it, but it’s worth it to build a future for yourself,” she said. 

She’s Hired

JoAnna is now earning a self-sufficient wage at a senior living facility.