Hi, my name is Natasha Brown. I am 28 years old and a single mother of two boys. I have returned to central PA, after living in New York for 3 months.
During my time in New York, I was working toward my GED, but found it difficult to obtain due to a domestic violence situation. I unfortunately experienced physical harm and was forced to leave New York quickly. Upon my return, I was staying in a homeless shelter in Harrisburg with my two sons, who are 8 and 6 years old.
It was a difficult time and I knew I needed to get a job in order to find a safe home for my family. We lived in the shelter for 5 months and then with assistance from Section 8, we were able to move into our own apartment.
We were receiving help from the County Assistance Office and I was referred to EDSI within the CareerLink building. My work history was mostly fast food and while I was grateful to have a job, I knew that fast food was not my career path.
Shortly after returning to PA, I focused and was able to earn my GED (high school equivalency) which allowed me to expand my job search. This was a wonderful step toward a more stable life for my boys and me.
I attended the EARN (Employment, Advancement and Retention Network) program each day and was diligent about putting in applications and sending out my resume.
I was referred to Dress for Success and was introduced to Jessica, who operates the mobile unit. She was so nice and showed me a wonderful variety of clothing to choose from. I really had a great time trying on the clothes and I received the perfect interview suit, jewelry, shoes and a bag.
Soon after, I was offered three interviews and attended every one, feeling great in my professional outfit. Believe it or not, I was offered all three jobs!
I ended up choosing the one I thought was best. It was a healthcare position and this field was new to me. During training, I discovered that it wasn’t the perfect fit for me, but my outlook was positive and I did not let it stop me from moving forward.
Around this time, my son was diagnosed with ADHD and was having a lot of trouble in school. I was afraid to put him on medication, but I knew I couldn’t stay home with him all day, so I communicated with the doctors to improve his life. By the end of the school year, he had received three awards; Problem Solving, Creativity and Student of the Month for showing the most improvement throughout the school year.
In May, I started the job I’d been looking for. I still work with food, but not in a fast food restaurant. It is cooking for the truck drivers who I feel deserve to have a good, hot meal and safe place to relax because they take so much time away from their families to ensure that businesses have what they need in stock.
I love what I do, because it is serving others and I know I’m part of a huge circle that keeps businesses up and running. I take pride in the part that I play at work. The company has plenty of room for me to grow, the pay is great and the team I work with is fantastic!
Despite struggles in my life, I grow stronger every single day and I learn new ways to stay happy. My sons are safe in our own home, I have survived domestic violence, I earned my GED, I thrive as a single mother and I have a job I am proud of and enjoy.
I hope my story inspires a young lady who is feeling like she’s down on her luck and life is over. I just want to tell you, it’s not. This is only the beginning.
Trust me, we all have struggled and that never stops, but what matters is how you pick yourself up and keep moving forward for yourself and for your children.