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Have you ever faced an ultimatum? Not a small one like the ones we give our children, “Eat your vegetables or no dessert.” No, I’m talking a big ultimatum that affects the rest of your life.
For 7 years, I faced an ultimatum that would keep me and my three little girls in a cycle of homeless. The breaking point for this cycle was being connected to HOPE, Inc.
My homelessness journey started not long after having my second child. The three of us went to our first shelter in Atlanta. I was terrified to take my girls to a shelter, but this place was different from what I had seen in the movies. We were safe. But this shelter was only a 6-month program. I wanted to go back to school but was told I needed to work and save as much money as possible.
Ultimatum: Stay in the program and keep shelter for my two little girls and I, or go back to school and be dismissed from the program.
So I stayed. I kept my dead-end minimum wage job while looking for employment elsewhere to no avail. My shelter and others like it wanted to present their boards with a “successful” resident – one who left the program with another place to go, a job, and a good amount in savings. The problem is that a “successful” resident is not completely removed from the cycle of homelessness. They just delay homelessness for a little while.
I felt angry, but underneath that anger, I felt defeated. How could I become stable without a degree? I had nothing to fall back on. In 2016, I started my journey with Rainbow Village. After about a year of showing a great work ethic, I was finally able to go back to school. But I still faced an ultimatum. After 2 years in the program, I would have to face the real world. There were zero affordable apartments nearby, so I would have to pack up everything, move across town to more affordable housing, and get a second job to pay for our expenses.
Ultimatum: Quit school and provide for my family or keep going and figure out where we would go from night to night.
Then came HOPE, Inc! (I wish you could hear the deep sigh of relief breathed with those few words.) HOPE understands what most shelters don’t: finding a new job will not stop the cycle of homelessness. The most important thing is to get a degree. This was my missing link! A degree makes it possible to earn a living wage, so it’s easier to land a good job and save money. Kenita and the team provided resources to deal with all of the barriers I faced. They paid a portion of my rent so that I could stay in the Duluth area. My children got to stay in the same school, and HOPE helped me take care of them with daycare assistance. I was able to keep my GPA up because I didn’t have to get a second job and had time to study. I even got counseling to deal with some of my emotional and psychological barriers to learning.
On May 10, 2019, I was finally free of my ultimatum. I graduated from Gwinnett Technical College, with honors! Thanks to HOPE, Inc, I am no longer Bianca Miller, homeless single mother. I am now Bianca Miller, college graduate, and mother of three girls who aspire to college themselves. I am the first in my family to graduate. I am Bianca Miller, generational curse breaker!
Bianca Miller, proud graduate of 2019!
P.S. Watch a video of my story below or by clicking here!
H.O.P.E. Inc. Joins Peachtree Corners Festival 5K Run on June 8, 2013
H.O.P.E. Inc. is excited to join the Peachtree Corners Festival 5K Run on June 8, 2013 as one of their charity partners! The event starts promptly at 7:30 a.m. at the Peachtree Elementary School, 5995 Crooked Creek Rd NW, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.
In an effort to give back to the community, the Peachtree Corners Festival added a special Charity Challenge, giving its community of volunteers, sponsors and participants the opportunity to make donations for the charity of their choice. Through this effort, the Festival hopes to raise over $25,000 for their charity partners, which includes H.O.P.E. Inc.!
H.O.P.E. Inc. is taking on the challenge by participating in the run this year and we’re asking for more sponsors! Our goal is to raise $2,500 through this effort! We currently have 13 sponsors and we need more. With less than four weeks until the run, we’re asking for your immediate help. As our organization continues to grow, we are always looking for new events and fun ways to continue our mission: to help serve low-income single parents obtain a college degree. By helping to provide these individuals with assistance in subsidized housing, child care, social services, and life skills, H.O.P.E. Inc.’s services will help them to finish their education, earn the skills to become employable, join the workforce and become more productive members of our society.
You can be confident that 100% of any donations made to H.O.P.E. Inc., whether small or large, will go directly to help single parents in need. Your donation is going to a great cause and will go a long way in helping us to reach our $2,500 goal! Won’t you consider making a donation today, or sign up to register for the Peachtree Corners Festival 5K Walk on June 8, 2013 right here on our website!
So please take the time to sign up here on our website and help us reach our goal of $2,500! Let’s run for the single parents in need of childcare and rent assistance so they can stay in school and create a better life for their families! Please spread the word! Please sign up or donate today! H.O.P.E. Inc. hopes to see you at the Festival on June 8th!
Remember that by supporting H.O.P.E. Inc. you are providing hope and help to single parents earn a college degree! Please come out and support us! We’ll have a booth at the Festival and a special “Meet and Greet” session where you have the opportunity to meet with board members, our supporters, sponsors, friends and me. It’s going to be a fun and exciting day as we run for a good cause and help build up our community!
H.O.P.E, Inc. (Helping Other People be Empowered) began in November 2009 as a passion and focus of the CEO, & founder, Kenita Pierce-Lewis. As a former single parent she struggled to complete her B.B.A & M.B.A. She noticed that there was not much support for single parents trying to finish their college education, and she wanted to create an organization that would allow her to give HOPE to others that are in the same situation she was in at a season in her life. Statistics show that the number one reason students do not finish their college education is due to financial stress. The government supports single parents with rent financially (up to $250) if they are not employed, and only assist with childcare if the parent is enrolled in junior college and has an income under the poverty level for their household. Read more »