“Evelyn’s” story is one of resilience and determination. She lives in Western Hills with her husband and three children, aged 15, 11, and 8, and until 2020, her family enjoyed a typical westside lifestyle. They loved going to the movies and spending quality time at home. Evelyn’s children had their own interests, with her oldest daughter showcasing her flair for nail artistry, her middle child excelling in hairstyling and dancing, and her son being passionate about video games. However, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt Evelyn’s family a harsh blow, transforming their world in an instant.

When the pandemic left Evelyn unable to work, it imposed an immense burden on her family, which had been accustomed to dual incomes. Santa Maria stepped up to help her family get back on track. Evelyn became a Stable Families program participant, and was paired with Serah Watson, Santa Maria Stable Families Case Manager. “Evelyn is very focused on her goals,” Serah said. “She keeps her appointments on time and actively works on what she wants to accomplish.”

Evelyn’s first priority was to create a budget and stick to it while working toward full-time self-employment. With Santa Maria’s support, she found it easier to stay focused on her goals and take steps to improve her situation. “They provide me with the tools and information to help me better my life,” Evelyn said gratefully. The tools included financial literacy resources, access to Santa Maria’s computer lab, and financial assistance. Serah provided case management and regular coaching sessions, where she provided non-judgmental support and guidance. “My case manager has been great,” Evelyn shared. “I feel like she maintains open communication, and I never feel judged. She is always willing to help whenever I need it.”

Together with Serah, Evelyn was able to reduce her spending on take-out food and start cooking at home, a positive step toward building healthier eating habits for her family. She also worked on financial goals such as saving money to purchase a home and planning for long-term financial stability, including retirement, which is crucial for her as a self-employed individual.

Evelyn’s proudest moment came when she graduated from college with an associate degree in science, with a concentration in medical coding and billing. Her family’s financial situation has also improved significantly since enrolling in the Stable Families program, and Evelyn remains committed to building a better financial future for her children and working toward owning their own home in the near future.

Through her hard work and determination, Evelyn has made significant progress in improving her family’s financial situation, and she remains focused on her dreams and goals for the future. She is grateful for the support of Santa Maria, and she encourages others to seek help without hesitation. “Santa Maria is here to help you,” Evelyn emphasized. “They offer help to anyone who needs it. They have great programs, and people shouldn’t hesitate to reach out.” With Santa Maria’s assistance, Evelyn is confident that she and her family will continue to move forward and build a better future.