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"Thank you, from the bottom of my heart"

Sonia has one of the biggest smiles and biggest hearts you can imagine. A natural caregiver, she has a gift for taking care of loved ones around her—and for two decades, she did just that as a stay-at-home mom.

Unfortunately, for Sonia, it wasn’t often a happy home, because she lived under the thumb of an abusive, controlling husband. He wouldn’t allow her to take classes to improve her English or to finish high school. She didn’t have a dime to her own name. And, for the duration of the marriage, she was not permitted to even know about the family’s finances or have a say in how the household was run.

She finally worked up the courage to divorce him in 2014 when her children were teenagers, but her troubles were far from over. She had a job, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make ends meet. And since she’d never learned financial know-how, she didn’t understand how to manage their money and household. Bills piled up quickly, leaving Sonia overwhelmed and terrified.

“When we divorced, I did not have a single clue about the responsibilities and hard work that went into maintaining a house, paying bills, writing checks, and much less about understanding a monthly budget,” she remembers tearfully. “We were just about to lose the house and become homeless.”

Desperate to keep safe housing for herself and her two children, she visited Home DuPage, and they recommended she apply to Bridge Communities.

“At first, I was scared—but then, I thought that God might be guiding me toward Bridge Communities, and I would have faith,” says Sonia. “When I started talking to Suzanne and Will, they were such nice people, and they made me feel comfortable and secure, and I knew I was in good hands.”

Once Sonia’s family moved into their Bridge apartment, she was connected to Joe, Mary and Pam: her mentors from Immaculate Conception Parish/Daybreak of Elmhurst. Sonia says her mentors were among the biggest keys to her success in the Bridge program.

“My mentors were my angels, and they guided me through such hard times. They gave me crucial support and so many important tools, lessons, and strategies that I will forever take with me to live a successful and fulfilling life,” Sonia says. “They taught me many critical habits and skills, such as organizing a daily and weekly schedule for myself, creating a monthly budget and spending plan, and even learning how credit scores work and how to maintain and build my score.” In fact, Sonia entered Bridge with a credit score of under 600, and through hard work and perseverance, boosted it to a 730 in just two years!

Sonia also needed a boost in her career, but a few things had always held her back: her limited skills in English, and her lack of a high school diploma.  And, thanks to her team at Bridge, she overcame both of these challenges by receiving English tutoring and earning her GED. She also attended a Microsoft Office certification class through Bridge, as well as Bridge’s job readiness workshop. “These two experiences not only taught me professional skills, but interpersonal skills as well,” she says. “After taking these two courses, and many mock job interviews, I felt more confident in myself. I developed and practiced new communication skills, and I finally felt that I was able to express myself clearly with other people.” Sonia has since obtained a job she loves in customer service for the DuPage County Health Department, and is proud to provide for her family.

And, since her children were older teens while in the program, they benefited from Bridge in unique ways and gained key skills that would take them into adulthood. “Both of my kids know how to budget, they’re both working and going to school, and they’re very good with money,” Sonia says.

Sonia’s daughter Cassandra graduated from high school while in Bridge, and is in the Surgical Technology program at College of DuPage. Thanks to Bridge supporters like you, she was awarded a Bridge scholarship to help with tuition, too. Cassandra also attended Bridge’s job readiness class, and holds down a part-time job while attending school. Sonia’s son Kevin works part-time and attends Harper College, and is studying to become a civil engineer.

Sonia has a goal of going to college, too—and she wants to become a social worker, so that she can pay it forward and help people in need. And because of your support, she’s on a path to get there. She’s also in the process of purchasing a house.

Sonia really used her time wisely with us, and I’m very proud of her. She worked full time while studying and passing her GED, and worked hard to improve her wages,” says Molly Howieson, Sonia’s case manager.  “She saved money with the hope of purchasing a home, and set an example for her children that education matters and is the key to a secure future.”   

Sonia is so grateful to the Bridge supporters, mentors and staff who helped her get to where she is today. “Thanks to the past two and a half of years of being in the Bridge program, today I consider myself a strong, valiant and fearless woman who is confident in herself,” says Sonia. “We all deserve a second opportunity in life to move forward. And I would like to extend my thanks to you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving this to me and my family.”

Client update

Sonia earned her GED and now holds a full time administrative assistant position!

Read more client success stories »

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A single adult supporting two children would need to earn $31.69 per hour to make a livable wage and afford permanent sustainable housing in DuPage County.