Crystal

Restoring a Smile with Stability

Financial Opportunity Center network helps a mother and her kids

Crystal came to the Financial Opportunity Center network after losing her housing and reaching out to Community Services League, United Way’s FOC Network partner in Independence.

Crystal is a single mother with five children who has, for some time, contended with the effects of poverty and domestic violence. She entered the program in “doubled-up” housing, but quickly became homeless. With the help of her case manager, Crystal was able to locate a landlord willing to rent her a house, despite her inconsistent rental history. She fell behind on rent payments after about 4 months in the home, even though she had full time employment.

However, that short time of housing stability allowed her children to improve in school.

Community Services League has numerous community resources, and many were used to keep the family housed—including rent and utility assistance, food assistance, a professional clothes closet, and financial coaching. But Crystal continued to struggle to make ends meet due to her relatively low income.

In partnership with her case manager, Crystal applied for and obtained Permanent Supportive Housing - a HUD program that pays a significant portion of monthly rent on an ongoing basis.

Through that program, lasting stability finally became possible for Crystal, and she was able to pursue other financial stability goals. Crystal entered a 10 week Certified Nursing Assistant program and graduated the top in her class. Crystal works at small medical practice that provides good pay, health insurance, and a family-friendly work schedule.

With Community Services League’s help, Crystal also obtained extensive dental treatment and dentures to address ongoing oral health issues and to restore her smile that had been gone for 14 years.

After one year of intensive case management, Crystal transitioned into the Financial Opportunity Center(FOC), another program offered by Community Services league and also supported by United Way. As an FOC participant, Crystal has a long-term financial coach, who helps her with goal setting and problem solving and provides accountability in her work toward her goals. Crystal and her children have been in stable housing for two years and during that time, her children have avoided disruptive school changes.

Crystal generously told her success story as part of Community Services League’s 100th anniversary gala before a crowd of 1,000 and credited her involvement in the Family Stability Initiative with getting her family on track to purse their goals and dreams. Crystal’s children are doing better in school and her two teenage children are learning financial skills in their first work experiences—one of whom received a loan to purchase a lawnmower to start a small lawn mowing business, and has already fully repaid the loan.