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Monday, March 27, 2023

Life Steers You onto the Right Path Sometimes, if You Are Willing to Believe in Yourself: Catholic Charities North Helps Young Mother Find a Path to Employment

“One day, when my daughter is six or seven years old, I want her to think to herself, ‘I hope to be like my mom’,” said Promise, a 21-year-old recent graduate of Catholic Charities North’s HiSET program. “She is my motivation for everything.”

It was not until Promise’s daughter came into the world a year and a half ago that Promise said her dreams of pursuing a meaningful career became a steadfast determination.

Having struggled with depression and ADHD throughout her early education, Promise said she found attending a traditional public high school, five days a week, to be extremely challenging.

“I felt sad every time I walked through those doors,” she said. “I couldn’t focus, and I didn’t want to do the work, so there was no point in being there.”

After completing her freshman year, Promise dropped out of high school and spent the next two years living with her mother in Lynn, trying to figure out her next move.

“I knew that I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted an education, but I didn’t want to go back to high school,” she said.

A stroke of luck came when Promise’s mother, who works for the Commonwealth Mental Health and Wellness Center, spoke to a colleague who suggested Promise consider Catholic Charities North’s HiSET program. Catholic Charities North’s HiSET program prepares students to take the HiSET exams, receive their high school equivalency credentials, and transition into employment, job training programs, college, and ultimately self-sufficiency. Upon learning of the accommodating HiSET class schedule and the sense of community at the Agency, Promise said she finally felt a clear sense of direction and quickly enrolled.

Two months later, just as she was beginning to feel adjusted to the program and confident in the skills she was developing, Promise found out she was pregnant. Although she attempted to continue taking classes throughout her pregnancy, receiving endless support from HiSET teacher, Bob Connolly, and the Catholic Charities North case management team, her energy levels quickly plummeted, leaving her unable to focus and perform her best on exams.

“After my daughter was born, I took a break from the program. It was just too much. Catholic Charities kept checking on me though. They said, ‘Whenever you are ready, we are going to be here for you’,” said Promise.

Just before Promise’s daughter turned one year old, Colleen Caro, Catholic Charities North’s Senior Case Manager, reached out to Promise.

“She said to me, ‘Now, is your time. You can do this. You are so close’,” said Promise.

That simple nudgea testament to Catholic Charities’ mission to meet clients where they are and walk alongside them—made all the difference. Several weeks later, Promise received her HiSET credential, her new baby girl cradled in her arms.

“I’m so grateful for all of the support I found at this program,” she said. “And I am so proud of myself.”

In the following weeks after earning her diploma, Promise joined Catholic Charities North’s YouthWorks program, a federally funded workforce development program, that helps teens and young adults acquire the skills and experience needed to be college and career ready.

Around that time, Promise got her first facial from a licensed esthetician in Boston.

“It was such a calm environment in the salon. Watching the esthetician, I thought to myself, ‘This is a job I would like to do—helping people to relax, helping them to feel beautiful, and care for their skin,” she said.

That experience, along with the guidance of the Catholic Charities North’s YouthWorks staff, sparked Promise’s interest in a career as an esthetician, leading her to apply for a seven-month training program at the Elizabeth Grady School of Esthetics and Massage Therapy. With the support of CCNorth’s Colleen Caro, Promise submitted a detailed application, interviewed, applied for student loans, and secured a position in the program which began in February.

If it were not for funding from Catholic Charities and the Elizabeth Grady School, Promise said she would not have been able to begin this new chapter.

One month into the program, and she has already begun training to give facials, microdermabrasion, and massage therapy.

“Life steers you onto the right path sometimes, if you are willing to take a risk and believe in yourself,” she said.

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