Malissa first heard about Kids Above All’s Emerge program while living at Breakthrough Women’s Center, a homeless shelter in Chicago. With her mother incarcerated, she had no support system and was struggling to take care of her daughter and son. Malissa knew that she needed help to get her life on track so that she could be self-sufficient and a good mom to her children.
Malissa enrolled in Emerge in August of 2016. After moving into her apartment, she met with her Kids Above All case manager, Kimberly Jackson-Miller, to establish personal and professional goals that would allow her – after completing the program – to support herself and her children. She also started counseling with her Kids Above All Therapist Jaleesa Pirtle to work through the trauma of homelessness, improve her social and emotional skills and better navigate family issues.
Malissa’s first step toward self-sufficiency was to earn her high school diploma. With Kim’s help, she registered at Sister Jean Hughes Adult High School in Chicago, taking classes four nights a week in computers, language arts, and math. Once she had settled into school, Kim helped Malissa create a resume so that she could apply for jobs. She went on a few interviews before finding part-time employment at McDonald’s.
She regularly attended Emerge’s monthly meetings where she became friends with other clients and learned life skills like financial literacy and the importance of savings for her future. After that meeting, she asked Kim to assist her in setting up a savings account at Chase Bank so that she could keep her paychecks from work in a secure place.
Malissa is on-track to graduate from the Emerge program in 2018 with stable housing and the knowledge and skills she needs to be independent. She earned her GED certificate in June of 2017 and plans to continue her studies at Malcolm X College in Chicago, pursuing a career in healthcare. She has made great progress on her treatment goals in her counseling sessions with Jaleesa, identifying emotions and using coping skills to break the cycle of trauma and improve life for her family.
“I want to thank the entire Emerge team for giving me the confidence to help me believe in myself. Kim and Jaleesa have motivated and encouraged me to push for the stars and work hard so that my family and I have bright futures.”