Thirty-nine-year-old Charity Dowers was born and raised in Cincinnati and is the mother of three children, Aubrey-18, Adam-17 and Autumn-5. Charity first sought Santa Maria Community Services’ assistance with early childhood development for Autumn. Since then, the two have participated in Promoting Our Preschoolers (POP), Stable Families and Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK). Charity has also received Financial Coaching services at Santa Maria.
When Charity noticed that Autumn was behind her peers developmentally, she and Autumn enrolled in POP and SPARK (a collaboration with The Children’s Home of Cincinnati), Santa Maria’s family-focused kindergarten-readiness programs that work collaboratively with families, schools, and the community through home visitation. Through home visits from POP program manager, Jaime Mutter, Charity and Autumn received developmental screens, parent support and education, advocacy and referrals. Normally, children receive educational supplies and participate in home or group-based learning opportunities to increase the child’s success in school and life. However, when the COVID-19 quarantine began, Jaime had to get creative. She dropped off educational supplies at Charity’s home and recorded instructional videos that were posted to Santa Maria’s YouTube channel for Charity to use when working with Autumn.
Jaime made the videos in place of home visits so families could watch and do the activity right along with her in their own home. She delivers an activity packet along with a book and whatever materials families will need the day before she shares a video. Jaime said, “I try to provide activities that can use regular household items that are easily accessible. Charity and Autumn have really enjoyed the videos. Autumn misses our home visits and this helps us to stay connected.”
Charity said of the videos, “They have helped me to understand what normal expectations for her age were and what I could do to help Autumn with her development. They have guided me as she grows.” Charity is pleased with the positive reinforcement Autumn receives from Jaime. She is able to see just how far Autumn has come and she is amazed by her progress. “It has helped to improve her speech, and she is more confident because of it,” Charity added, “Any time you can watch your child grow, learn, and become more confident it’s a blessing.”
Impressed with the results she was seeing with POP and SPARK, Charity also entered Santa Maria’s Stable Families program. Stable Families creates long-lasting change by addressing and resolving the issues that push families to the brink of homelessness. As Charity’s coach, Amelia Wehr provided family counseling and advocacy, helped in locating resources for health care, school programs, short-term financial support for transportation and utility bills, household budgeting assistance, and connections to resources and supports to prevent future crisis situations.
It was through Stable Families that Charity pursued assistance in applying for college. Santa Maria was able to help her get her GED transcript, fill out her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and get enrolled in the nursing program at Gateway Community and Technical College! “I would have never pursued my nursing degree without the guidance of the staff and the resources that have given me the ability to attend,” Charity said. Now Charity is working directly on the frontline, caring for COVID-19 patients. She is a healthcare superhero!
Over time, Charity has accepted assistance with school clothes for her children, household toiletries and food. Through Santa Maria’s connection to Project Lift, Charity was able to pay down her debt in order to increase her credit score. Project Lift is a public/private partnership that allows providers the flexibility, funding and resources to meet a family’s needs quickly. Charity also received coaching about budgeting and managing finances. She hopes she will be able to be a homeowner again someday. She said of Santa Maria, “Life is better now because I have solid goals, and hope that I’ll actually meet them. I am watching my daughter succeed in class when she would have otherwise struggled. I am incredibly grateful for the services provided.”
Charity intends to pay it forward once she finishes her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)! She credits Santa Maria with helping her get there. “The employees are incredibly kind people who are encouraging, kind, respectful, and non-judgmental, who have taken on hard jobs and do a great job of helping people to learn how to help themselves.” And Jaime is just as impressed with her, “Charity’s strength and perseverance are something that I am inspired by every day. She never gives up. I don’t think she realizes how amazing she is.”
When you donate to Santa Maria, you are helping people like Charity reach their educational, financial, and health goals. Together, we can make Price Hill a vibrant, thriving, and self-sustaining community.