Jessica’s Pursuit of Excellence in the Stable Families Program

L to R: Back row, Marcus; Middle row, Zaryah, Jordan, Mariah and Jazmine; Front row, Kaylee

Born and raised in Price Hill, Jessica, takes pride in her hometown. She also takes pride in her family. Fourteen years ago, Jessica found her lifelong passion in motherhood. One of her proudest moments, Jessica said, was giving birth to her first child, Marcus, now 14. She would give birth four more times, to Jordan-11, twins Mariah and Zaryah-10, Jazmine-8 and Kaylee-4. All six have been raised in Price Hill, and the entire family enjoys checking out the sights right here in Cincinnati whenever they get the opportunity.


The challenges of motherhood are part of what brought Jessica to seek Santa Maria’s help. “I was staying with a family member and in a rough place and I didn’t know what I would do,” Jessica said. “I was not working or driving at the time, my marriage was going downhill, and I was in need of resources and upliftment.” Jessica said coming to Santa Maria gave her hope for the future.


Jessica’s first big stumbling block was housing. “Jessica was very stressed due to her housing situation at that time and didn’t know how long she had in that [housing] situation,” said Santa Maria Stable Families Case Manager, Tashawna Lyle. That’s when Tashawna enrolled Jessica in Santa Maria’s Stable Families program. Stable Families is an 18-month program that develops personal goals for families at risk of losing stable housing. “When I first met Jessica,” Tashawna said, “She was going through a lot, but giving up was never a thought expressed. She just needed a sense of direction.”


“When I first spoke with my case manager, my life was in shambles,” Jessica said, “But as the months went on, everything started to get in order with help from Santa Maria and my family.” Through Santa Maria’s Stable Families program, Jessica was able to locate housing and get furniture for her new place through a partnership between Santa Maria and New Life Furniture Bank. New Life Furniture partners with about 50 social service agencies in the greater Cincinnati area who make referrals for furniture to their clients in need. New Life delivered furniture right to Jessica’s door. She also received assistance paying her gas and electric bill and attaining financial stability. Jessica is currently working on credit building.


Jessica’s next big hurdle was obtaining a job that would work with her children’s schedules. Jessica received employment coaching through Santa Maria and she was able to find appropriate employment at Hotel Covington. It is Tashawna’s hope that Jessica will soon be able to find a career she is passionate about as she continues her journey.


Jessica’s next big goal was finding school resources for her children. “My caseworker conversations helped lift my spirit to let me know that I can do it with a sense of guidance and direction,” she said. Jessica believes her children will be able to achieve greater school stability by moving them to IDEA Public Schools in Price Hill, which she hopes to do in the near future.


Jessica also gave her parenting skills a boost by participating in Santa Maria’s Parents On Point program. Parents on Point is a 12-week, community-based support group for caregivers of children ages 2-8 and was created to empower and support participants in raising healthy and happy young children. Jessica said her children loved Parents On Point as well.


As Jessica continues down the path toward financial stability for her family, she wants others to know that Santa Maria has a lot of resources that can help, “and the workers there actually listen!” she added.


Tashawna shared a quote from award-winning journalist and author, Elaine Welteroth, who said, “Be true to your convictions, and do not settle. You may take some detours and encounter some roadblocks along the way, but never give up on the pursuit of excellence—however you may define that for yourself.” Tashawna said that Jessica embodies the spirit of that quote. “She keeps going, no matter what life throws at her.” With help from donors, partners and sponsors, Santa Maria can continue to help people like Jessica remove those roadblocks and achieve excellence.