Stories of Self-Sufficiency

Balancing It All

CSBG-Success-StoryWhen her previous job ended as a result of the 2010 Oil Spill, Angie Harp, a single mom of two teenage daughters, was challenged to make ends meet.

State assistance helped her get by for a short time. Then in November 2013, a friend who was beginning a local trucking company asked Angie to help launch the business. She returned to work, serving as office manager, and she began to get back on her feet financially.

Angie meets regularly with Case Manager Pamela McKenzie as part of the Family Self Sufficiency Program. With funding from the federal Community Service Block Grant, the program helps to support newly employed individuals and encourages long-term family self-sufficiency.

“They’ve been wonderful to me,” says Angie, “helping me get back and forth to work and helping me get started back in school.”

Earlier this year, Angie received an acceptance letter to the University of West Florida where she intends to study business. Because she already has an associate’s degree, Angie says she expects to be able to complete the bachelor’s degree program in about two years. Her classes will begin this summer, and she’ll be on campus two days a week.

“The real success will be when I have that diploma in my hand,” added Angie.

Determined to reach her goal, Angie will balance classes with her job at the trucking company and being a mom. It’s a tall order but one she accepts.

“If you want it bad enough, it can be done with hard work and perseverance,” she says.

McKenzie and CAPC will do what they can to support her along the way. “We will help her with books and transportation,” McKenzie added.

She also tells Angie about a program that may be of interest to her daughters: “To help working parents maintain employment or pursue a degree, we do offer assistance with childcare before and after school and during summer through the Boys and Girls Club,” McKenzie says. “The summer program includes learning opportunities in science and math as well as outdoor activities.”

Angie hopes her daughters will follow in her footsteps to continue their schooling in the not-too-distant future.

“At first, when I decided to go back to school, I teased my daughters that they’d have to help me with my homework,” Angie says, acknowledging that she will be a non-traditional student. Although she admits she may feel a little out of place when she steps on campus this summer, Angie knows the journey will be worth it.

“I want to encourage my girls to go to college,” she adds. “I want them to learn you have to work for what you get.”

A Courageous Journey

Rafael Quintin has taken a courageous journey to self-sufficiency.

Rafael came to CAPC as a long-term case management client after participating in the Waterfront Rescue Mission’s Career Development Program, which helps graduates of the Mission’s addiction recovery programs continue on the road to self-sufficiency.

Of his recovery experience, Rafael says, “Nothing good comes easy,” but the Waterfront Mission introduced him to “men of God who help you and give you tools to fight the battle.”

He says the program taught him how to cope with everyday life: “My escape is going to the Word of God.”

Professionally, Rafael found a calling to serve others as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). In December, he joined the staff at Life Care Center of Pensacola, a local nursing home, a transition that was made easier by the Family Self-Sufficiency Program at CAPC. Case Manager Pamela McKenzie, who met weekly with Rafael as he sought and began his employment, was able to provide support in the form of a uniform, shoes and transportation assistance.

Rafael made an immediate impact on the staff and patients at Life Care Center, receiving the organization’s “Whatever It Takes and Then Some” recognition for exceptional performance in caring for residents, their families and fellow associates.

Specifically, he was acknowledged for dedication to the residents, whom he sometimes visits on his off days. On one occasion, when a resident passed away during Rafael’s shift and funeral home personnel were in the building, Rafael helped to calm another resident and sang songs with her in her room during that time, showing respect to both parties.

“I try to make sure the patients’ day goes smoothly,” Rafael says. “We pray together and talk about the Word of God. It’s a blessing to me and probably helps me more than it does them.”

When he isn’t working, Rafael finds comfort in his church family at Olive Baptist Church. He also actively participates in WordWalk, a non-denominational organization that supports Christ-focused ministries around the world and in local communities.

“I have my passport, and I’ll be going to Jamaica in August for mission work,” he says. “We are going to help build a church and pass out Bibles.”

Rafael says he’d like to go back to school to become a physical therapy assistant some day. For now though, he says, “God has given me the tools to enjoy my job, and I’m blessed to be able to give back to the community.”

McKenzie is proud of the progress Rafael has made, saying “As Rafael’s story illustrates, Community Action helps customers overcome obstacles that prohibit self-sufficiency.”

Specifically, the Family Self-Sufficiency Program helps clients assessed to be in crisis move toward thriving status. In Rafael’s case, he’s unofficially reached another status: inspiring.