September 2016, Stephanie, a twenty-three-year-old single mom, desperately needed a fresh start. Her baby’s father had died a month earlier. She couldn’t find work. And she didn’t have her parents to turn to—her mom deported, her dad passed.
Determined to build the life her dad would’ve wanted for them, Stephanie decided to move with her daughter to New York City. “It’s supposed to be a place where you find yourself, live your dreams, and get to be a better you,” she said.
Stephanie thought she’d have support from extended family, but things didn’t go to plan. They made it to the Big Apple, but they found themselves alone and without enough money to cover basics like diapers, wipes, and a MetroCard.
Stephanie knew she needed help—fast. “I got on a train with my baby and bag,” said Stephanie. “And I went to find a shelter.”
This was not the fresh start she dreamed of. But it’s what she needed while she looked for a job that would let her build a more stable home.
At the shelter, she joined a job-training program to outfit her with the skills and confidence she needed. Through it, she met Carol, a United Way of New York City volunteer and vice president at TD Bank. Carol was a coach at a United Way–run career readiness workshop, and her warm and open heart helped Stephanie appreciate her inner-strengths and career goals.
Admiring Stephanie, Carol asked her: “Have you ever thought of becoming a bank teller?”
In fact, there was an open position at TD Bank.
Stephanie applied and got the teller job at TD—and it’s a job she loves, filled with opportunity. She even earned a promotion earlier this year!
At United Way’s workshop, Carol gave Stephanie what she needed most—a caring community that believes in you. “When you feel like no one is on your side or nothing is going to fall in your favor…there’s a person like Carol, who does care and wants to see people do good,” said Stephanie.
Today, Carol continues to coach Stephanie on problem solving and trusting her professional instinct “Carol makes me own the situation,” says Stephanie.
And owning it she is. Stephanie is officially out of the shelter and thinking about going back to school. “If I get a bachelors degree, I can do something bigger at TD…and teach my daughter all the things I know,” she says. “My dad would be happy knowing I’m not stopping and reaching for the stars.”
Stephanie is an example of what happens when we come together to help our most-vulnerable
neighbors. Right now, 2.7 million New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, even though 83% of these households have at least one working adult.
Together, we have more to do. Together, we can #spreadthewords for families like Stephanie’s and make a lasting difference.