By Anna Woelk, Adelante Volunteer.  Article from Winter 2012 The Voice of La Puente.

Staff of the Adelante Family Self-Sufficiency Program Celebrate

It was the morning after Alamosa’s first fall frost as I drove up to the grocery store in my comfy warm car. As I parked, a bike chained to the rack out front caught my eye. Hanging from it were two helmets, one big and one small. It didn’t take long to recognize it as Renee’s. Sure enough, as I walked through the entrance doors, I saw her and her daughter checking out at the register and I waved at them with a smile. We chatted for a while about her day before they headed home.

Wheels of Change

A simple bike with a baby carrier can jumpstart the process toward self-sufficiency and independence.  It can mean the difference between relying on others for transportation and removing oneself from dangerous situations. During her first weeks in the Adelante program, Renee was given her own wheels of change. At the time of entry she was living in a crowded homeless shelter with her boyfriend and their newborn child. She was in the midst of an unstable, challenging relationship that left her with no support and no one to turn to. Since beginning the program, however, Adelante staff has been able to provide support through her continued journey of discovery.

A woman with immense internal strength and resilience, Renee is currently enrolled at the Valley’s local community college with dreams of one day starting her own gardening business. Adelante provided a safe space for her to talk about her dreams and discover ways to achieve them. Especially exciting to see has been her transformation from viewing these dreams as unachievable and lofty to gaining the tools, building helpful networks, and using her inner strengths to make strides toward a brighter future. Talking with her case manager about big goals has slowly shifted into specific planning about how to make her dreams a reality.  In an upcoming class, she hopes to work on a marketing strategy for her future business and emphasize giving back to the local non-profits. She has also secured employment. Her dedication and positive attitude has turned what originally presented itself as a seasonal job into an opportunity for growth and continued sustainability.

It isn’t always simple to juggle the multiple sectors in her life and care for her daughter, however. She often relays to the case managers that she wishes she could spend more time with her. Renee has become increasingly involved in the life of the community as well and she and her daughter are often seen participating in events at the community greenhouse, gardens, and coffee shop, educational seminars, and town meetings. She is receptive to the opportunities around her, aware of the various supportive networks at work and school, and open to new ideas. Renee said that she felt lonely when she entered the program but has realized that the greatest way to get rid of loneliness is to serve others and she hopes people know that there is always someone there to listen to their story.

Transportation is Not a Secondary Need

If you are in town, look out for a beautiful strong woman on wheels. Providing two wheels for Renee was as important as providing a roof, food, life skills, and counseling. For many of our families transportation is not a secondary need. For Renee and many others it can become a means to finding a job, resources, independence, and ultimately, self-sufficiency.

As the winter weather creeps in, Renee is looking forward to finishing another semester of school and her job will pick up for the holiday season. Although she has never complained about biking in the cold, she is hoping to find an affordable car soon to preclude the harsh temperatures and wind in the Valley.

Consider donating your bike, car, or mechanic services to an Adelante family this season. For more information call: (719)587-0538 or e-mail: adelante.lapuente@gmail.com.

Read the complete Winter 2012 The Voice of La Puente.

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