Forty-two-year-old Charity Dowers grew up in Sedamsville, near to where Santa Maria’s Administrative offices are currently located. When she was a little girl, that office, often called ‘the center,’ served as a community center, similar to what our Joe Williams Family Center is now. That’s when she first met Regine Gordon, currently a Family Advocate & Group Facilitator in our Promoting Our Preschoolers (POP) program.
Families and Santa Maria staff often went on day trips together, including visits to Kings Island. Regine recalled, “Charity and her family were a wonderful family. I knew her, her mom, and her siblings. They were all friendly, well-behaved kids,” she said with warmth. “It was always a joy to see them when they came to the center for activities.”
Charity fondly remembered her time at the center, saying, “It was a safe place to go to relax and have something to do. The adults were safe people we could trust and rely on to keep us safe and provide an atmosphere where we could be kids and do things that we couldn’t otherwise do.”
If Charity’s name is familiar, it’s because we first brought you her story in 2020. At that time, she sought help for her youngest child’s development. Autumn was struggling with speech, and Regine suggested that Charity enroll her in Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK). SPARK is a program that helps preschool children develop the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten. It focuses on their social, emotional, and thinking abilities. The program’s aim is to prepare children for school and ensure that schools are prepared to teach them.
Soon after, Charity faced financial hardships and sought assistance from Santa Maria’s Stable Families program. “The center helped me manage some household bills by paying to keep my utilities on, put me in a class that taught me quite a bit about how to better manage my expenses and income, and encouraged me to go back to school because that was ultimately my goal,” Charity expressed her gratitude. Stable Families not only provided counseling and advocacy, but also helped Charity navigate college enrollment and find financial resources to support her education.
With Santa Maria’s support, Charity worked her way through college and proudly graduated this year with an Associate of Science degree in Applied Science from Gateway Community and Technical College. “It felt amazing to be able to put that cap and gown on and soak up the cheering,” she reminisced. This graduation held a special significance for her as it marked her first because she obtained a High School Equivalency diploma. “I wanted to be able to show my kids that if I can push for a better life, they can too,” Charity said, filled with determination.
Regine expressed her admiration and pride in Charity’s accomplishments, saying, “I had the honor of knowing Charity when she was a young girl and then watching her grow up and raise a family of her own. Now, I have watched her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse! The sky is the limit for this beautiful lady… I know she will be an incredible nurse!”
Looking toward the future, Charity shared her aspirations. She hopes to one day be a homeowner, but her next goal is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She also expressed her desire to give back to the community, saying, “I want to be able to pay it forward when I am out of school and in a better financial position.” Charity expressed deep gratitude to Santa Maria for their lifelong support, crediting Regine and all of her family support workers for giving her the courage to return to school. “I would have never had the courage to do it had it not been for their support,” she concluded.