The Friendship that Saved a Family

"I've made bad choices that negatively affected not just me, but my kids."

Learn more about Hope for Stable Families

United Way's HOPE for Stable Families initiative works with central Iowa families each year to set goals, remove barriers, and find support in moving out of poverty to long-term financial stability.

Lisa won’t let her four children suffer for her mistakes. And the mistakes she regrets the most are ones many of us have made: choosing the wrong romantic partners.

Lisa’s downhill slide began when she married a verbally abusive alcoholic. Reeling after the divorce, Lisa started dating a drug addict who quickly got her hooked on opioid pills. When the police raided their home, her boyfriend went to jail, and she briefly lost custody of her kids.

“I was completely devastated,” Lisa says. “That was the worst time of my whole life, the darkest time.”

Determined to get clean, Lisa moved her kids to Des Moines for a fresh start near a methadone clinic. For the first time, Lisa began to see herself as the strong, independent woman she could be.

Lisa was offered a spot in United Way’s HOPE for Stable Families 2Gen program, which focuses on the whole family to break the cycle of poverty. Lisa takes classes on financial literacy, nutrition, and parenting. She also meets with a case manager and a job coach to problem-solve, budget, and promote her hair stylist business.

As Lisa’s life stabilizes, her kids are thriving in United Way programs. Four-year-old Aziyah attends Oak Academy and participates in Book Buddy, where volunteers read with him twice a week. First-grader Isabella goes to Project Oasis after school for academic and social enrichment.

“I’ve made a lot of bad choices that negatively affected not just me, but my kids,” says Lisa. “I’m trying hard to get back on track so they have a good life.”



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