My name is Nexaida Rodriguez and I am excited to share my experience.
Let me tell you about where my life was 3 months ago. I was living in Chicago, with my two kids – they’re 10-year-old twins. I had a steady job making a decent living, we had an apartment that was beautifully furnished and a place we called home. We were stable and happy, but the violence in Chicago is worse than it is here and there were some things I couldn’t protect my children from.
My greatest fear was that they would get shot by some gang member for no reason other than being an easy target. The last straw came when my kids called me from their school, crying because a 9-year-old classmate had gotten hold of a gun and brought it to school and was waving it around. My kids called me and begged me to come get them.
I did what any mother would do. I packed up the car with whatever I could fit and I got them out of school and out of Chicago.
That was a long car ride. We arrived in Harrisburg at 3 a.m. My kids were asleep in the back of the car still wearing their school uniforms from the day before. I had no plan, no money and only one resource - and that was God. I told my kids that things were going to be uncomfortable for a few months, but that it would only be temporary until mommy could get a new job and a new place to live. But when you have faith, all things are possible.
It’s a very humbling experience to apply for cash assistance and food stamps, but it has also allowed me to see the blessings and miracles that are all around us. My job coach and case manager set up an appointment for me to meet with Dress for Success. I thought to myself, “I really do not need another boring lecture about how to dress for work,” because in my mind, I thought I going there to hear a talk about dress codes in the business place.
I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life. There never was any boring lecture, and instead, I felt like I was a winner on a makeover show. DFS helped me pick out clothes that were my favorite color, and many were brand new and high-priced items which is a big deal for someone who is struggling financially. I also got a purse, shoes, jewelry and makeup. I felt like a queen. But the most valuable thing I received wasn’t “stuff” - it was encouragement.
Today, I am happy to say I have a permanent full-time job at a retirement community and next month I will be back on my feet, moving into a new apartment with my beautiful family.
When we think of the word “success”, we often think of financial wealth; but really success means the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. Dress for Success helped me reach my own success and I am so very grateful for this experience.