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Individual Success Story


“When my sons saw that I completed my bachelor’s degree and they attended my university graduation, that was my highlight. One of my highlights – showing them that I made it.”

Walking across the graduation stage with her sons in the audience was one of Sylvia’s* proudest moments. To understand why the accomplishment for the single mom of two boys was so sweet, roll back the tape to years earlier when she arrived in need of Fresh Start’s aid.  

In 2001, Sylvia was a full-time working mom in the midst of a stressful divorce. Even though she knew completing the divorce was the best thing for her and her boys, at times the lonely journey overwhelmed her. She questioned if she could continue without support and wondered if she should sacrifice her happiness to stay with him.  

“I needed that support in order to continue with my divorce because it could have easily transitioned to, ‘Well, okay, I’ll just stay with him, I will continue this unhappy life of mine,” Sylvia remembered.  

Sylvia turned to Fresh Start to find support and community. She spoke with a member of the social work team who ensured she’d find the aid she desperately needed as well as a likeness and sisterhood amongst other women also utilizing Fresh Start’s resources.  

“Coming here (to Fresh Start) and attending my first support group, gave me that confidence I lacked due to my divorce and other unforeseen things that happened,” said Slyvia.  

After completing her first support group, Sylvia found herself gaining confidence and curiosity about what other possibilities Fresh Start offered. She began attending classes including the Personal Empowerment Series and learned about Fresh Start’s scholarship program. Now, Sylvia set her mind on a new goal: earning her bachelor’s degree.  

“While I was in school, I also had my two boys going to school. I constantly showed them that school is very important in the long term, whether it’s your high school degree or further education,” Sylvia explained. 

Sylvia persevered for years to finally walk across the graduation stage in front of her sons. Her diploma even further expanded her self-worth and encouraged her to search for a better-serving, higher-wage job. For 20 years, she had worked at the same company, and with her degree in hand, Sylvia left her old position in search of a role that would value her as a college graduate.  

“Having my bachelor’s opened up a broad spectrum of other positions that I was able to apply for. I was getting feedback like, “Hey, let’s interview you, let’s see what you can bring to the table.” 

Again, Sylvia turned to Fresh Start for support.  

She went to Fresh Start workshops and courses on interviewing best practices and received help perfecting her resume.  

She found a job and saw her income increase greatly. Through yet another accomplished goal, Slyvia showed her sons the truth behind, “you can do anything you set your mind to.” Through the years, Sylvia continued to set new goals for herself: making $20,000 more and ensuring her sons could graduate in the next five years.  

“They’re both in trade schools now and they’re continuing with their careers. I’ve set goals and accomplished them and I’m making lots and lots of more money so now I can support myself, and if I had to, support my boys.”