Monica, a former UCM client, shared her personal journey to financial stability and success at the UCM 2017 Give From The Heart Gala. She lit up the room with her inspiring story. Here are her words:
"Years ago, I had a family just like you. I was living a life that many others would love to have. My then-husband was an international executive working for the hospitality industry. We lived overseas in five-star luxury hotels and traveled around the world.
"But after 5 years, my marriage changed to an unacceptable situation. And that’s when the emotional and physical abuse started. A few years ago, when we here on holiday visiting his family, another episode of physical abuse happened. I didn’t have any choice but to leave, due to a protective order issued by the police -- with no place to go and holding a tourist Visa.
"I was cut off from all financial assets. I was panicked and alone, with no family or friends in the US. I didn’t know anything about the domestic violence help system, or how to get resources to sustain myself and my three-year-old daughter. We did not have a place to live, and I had no work permit. I had to leave everything behind. I had no income. The joint account was emptied by him.
"I was advised by the police to go to a county Domestic Violence Shelter. From there,
UCM was the only organization who believed in me and gave me the opportunity and support I needed. Other agencies denied my applications because my situation was so complicated.
"The counselors at UCM are amazing and very professional. You don’t find caring human beings like them so easily. They encouraged me and counseled me. They were with me at my court hearings. They made me feel that they were my family.
"My main challenge was to adapt my job experience according to the US standards, and to make it look more professional in my resume. At UCM, I received the tips, guidance, and support I needed
"The expertise of my job coach gave me a lot of confidence. I learned new ways to find a job and to research the right contacts. In less than one week, I already had two interviews – and went back to work in the hospitality industry. And I quickly got a promotion!
"Today, I have a good job in my chosen career. I feel so blessed. We live in a charming apartment where I pay the full rent; no more subsidies or help. We are independent. I am paying our bills. I have full physical custody of my daughter and share legal custody. We are in a good place now!
"My daughter is just like every other happy five-year-old. She is safe and doing awesome. And yeah, she is learning so fast. She loves her teachers at the UCM Early Learning Center, Ms. Lolita and Ms. Alberta. She is ready to start Kindergarten this year. I wish she could stay there forever!
"Because of UCM, I was able to receive a subsidy from the county to help me afford her preschool at the wonderful UCM Center. I am proud to share with you that thanks to my new job -- that I have been paying the full tuition for her and that we no longer qualify for or need the subsidy. I have UCM -- and you -- to thank for that.
"It has been a long journey of hard work, but I am willing to do that hard work. I feel safe. I feel strong and excited about our future. I have hopes and dreams and have set goals that I know I can accomplish. I want to keep studying and growing in my career. I want my daughter to be strong and independent – as you wish for your kids.
"I am so very grateful for all that UCM and its supporters have done for me. I got my hope and my spirit back, so that we can be emotionally and financially stable. And so that my daughter can be safe, healthy, and happy.
"Without your support, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight to share my story and my gratitude. Thank you for caring. Thank you for your generous support that helped me and other families in the same – or worse -- situation to find hope for a brighter future. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
(UCM E-news, May 2017)