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Mom overcomes adversity and enters career helping parents and their families

“There’s always a way around the way,” J says, who is a former participant in Avivo’s family and employment services. “And, if you have the skills, you can get it.”

For J, having the skills was not her struggle. She has a bachelor’s degree and was working on her Master’s. It was what she describes as experiencing “ways of life that are incomprehensible.” Today, she is working as an Avivo career counselor helping families move off public assistance and into work. She believes her strongest credentials for the job are that she has walked in her clients’ shoes.

For safety reasons, J shares just enough of her story for people to know how much Avivo helps women and their children take their next best steps. To that end, there came a level of adversity in her marriage and life that was indescribably deep. In the end, her ex-husband left her with a five-bedroom home, three children and no income.

She was isolated, knew no one, and the public supports designed to help were wrought with barriers. Poor communication and lack of resources by providers were frustrating. She talks about how her children were her motivating force, and that she was connected to Avivo.

“I was raised to be independent and to never ask for anything. When Ron [my Avivo employment counselor] was assigned to me, he quickly became my only support and source of communication and connectivity in Minnesota.”

“I was raised to be independent and to never ask for anything. When Ron [my Avivo employment counselor] was assigned to me, he quickly became my only support and source of communication and connectivity in Minnesota.”

“He would check in on how I was doing with real life. When he discovered I was a half-month behind in rent he offered resources and information. He helped me with rent twice, gas cards a few times, and vehicle repairs which saved me from having to struggle to make things happen.”

According to J, he was always cheering her on as she got jobs; he would give direction when she would switch into better jobs. Working alongside her, Ron saw how she would be just the right fit for helping families navigate similar journeys and support them onto success. She was hired by Avivo.

“Having been there myself makes me really good at [working with families],” she says. “My education is important, but I think it is more of my life experiences. I have always had good luck with rapport building. I have a willingness to see others’ points of view.”

“Having been there myself makes me really good at [working with families],” she says. “My education is important, but I think it is more of my life experiences. I have always had good luck with rapport building. I have a willingness to see others’ points of view.”

Looking for the silver lining in things keeps her going. “Yes, things happen, but finding the silver lining, and finding gratitude in everything, is how we can figure out a way.”

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