Genine Gray is a mother of three children and is currently pursuing a degree in social work. It was eight years ago that she first came to Santa Maria Community Services when she was pregnant with her oldest child, Cherish. She was told about Santa Maria’s Every Child Succeeds program and decided to enroll.
Upon enrolling in Every Child Succeeds, Genine learned “what to expect” throughout her pregnancy. After giving birth, the program educated her on what developmental milestones her daughter should be reaching and how to ensure that she was reaching them. Every Child Succeeds supports at-risk mothers by facilitating in-home visits by child development specialists starting from the time of pregnancy and continuing until the child’s third birthday. Genine says the program, “helped me be a good mom.”
Once Genine’s daughter turned three, she was enrolled in Santa Maria’s kindergarten readiness program, Promoting Our Preschoolers. Promoting Our Preschoolers, also known as POP, functions as an in-home visitation program to ensure that children are academically and developmentally ready for kindergarten. Children receive developmental screenings along with educational supplies and at-home educational opportunities. This support comes in the form of a social worker who comes to the home to assist parents in meeting these goals. Jaime Mutter, a family advocate for Santa Maria, has worked with Genine’s two oldest children during their enrollment in POP.
Genine speaks highly of Jaime, explaining that her children are always excited for their in-home visits. “Faith will look out the window and yell, ‘Jaime’s coming! Jaime’s coming!’” The bond between Genine and Jaime is clearly a tight one. Jaime says, “It’s so rewarding to work with someone who has so much motivation. She inspires me. When she sets a goal, she’s not messing around.” Genine feels a similar sense of admiration for Jaime saying that one day she “would like to do Jaime’s job.” Genine hopes to graduate with a social work degree in 2020. At her current job, she provides in-home care for those with physical and mental disabilities.
Along with assisting Genine in meeting her parenting goals, Santa Maria has helped her reach financial ones as well. She went through financial coaching at Santa Maria’s Financial Opportunities Center which helped her to budget and build up her credit score after making some negative financial choices when she was younger. When speaking of the experience, Genine says, that it “helped me with budgeting and to build my credit with a Twin Savings Account.” The Twin Savings program loans participants a sum of money that is placed into a locked savings account. Over the course of a year, participants make payments on the loan, building their credit score. Genine explains that this helped her build up her credit score after she made some negative financial choices when she was younger.
Genine looks forward to the future and reflects on her time with Santa Maria saying, “Santa Maria has always been good to me. They’ve helped me in being a parent, being a person, meeting financial goals, parenting goals, and personal goals.”