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"I vowed to do what was required to turn my life around. I knew I was meant to do more with my life.”

In May 2005, Megan’s husband left her and her two sons with a mortgage, bills and nowhere to turn. She knew she was going to lose everything, and had no idea how to navigate through the mess.  It was then that Megan realized the decision she had made to not finish her education years earlier would come back to haunt her.  She felt she had no way to avoid the path she and her two sons were about to travel.  Megan knew she had no choice but to reach out to others; it was the hardest to confide in her family about what she felt was a humiliating and degrading situation.  Megan shares, “When I realized that I was going to lose all my material possessions and that I didn’t have the resources to take care of myself and my sons, I was embarrassed and devastated.  I vowed to do what was required to turn my life around.  I knew I was meant to do more with my life.” 

Megan soon accepted that she needed the assistance of mainstream government programs to sustain any kind of normalcy for her two young boys.  She made phone calls to the DuPage County Human Services Office and was referred to Bridge Communities.   Two months and two Program Partner interviews later, Megan and her boys were welcomed with open arms by one of Bridge Communities’ Program Partners, Families Helping Families (FHF).

Almost immediately after entering the Transitional Housing program, Megan indicated that continuing her education and improving upon her son’s school grades were two of her primary goals.  She has always known that a strong educational foundation is the key to long-term career stability.

Megan applied to and was quickly accepted into Benedictine University where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree.  She will graduate in May 2008 with a business management degree.  Megan comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and states, “I will now have the education and skills to live out my legacy.”

Megan’s Case Manger, Molly Howieson, connected Megan to social service programs such as TANF, food stamps, medical and daycare assistance.  They worked together to ensure the children were prepared for school.  Megan was connected to counseling for herself and her children. They were also referred to credit counseling. In addition, like all Bridge case managers, Molly supported the mentors assigned to work with Megan and her family. 

Molly, reflected that Megan had been living a middle class existence, much like our mentors.  “I am sure Megan had to swallow a lot of pride to ask for help and to work a program as invasive as Bridge.  She has always been very goal oriented and is a positive, intelligent woman.  It has been a great experience helping Megan.  She has done all the work, I am just fortunate enough to get to be her cheerleader.”

Megan’s mentors, Mary and Jacqueline have provided her with the suport she needed to rebuild her life.  “I have never really had the support system I needed to encourage me and trust me.  Mary and Jacqueline have taught me to trust my instincts, ask for help when needed and rebuilt my confidence.” 

The respect and admiration is mutual.  Megan’s mentors said she has set a wonderful life example for her boys; not one of dependency, but instead to go after the life she wants for the three of them.  Jacqueline says, “Megan’s positive can-do attitude is catchy.  After some of our visits, I feel like she has helped me more than I helped her.  We are each other mutual cheerleaders.”  Mary adds, “I can describe Megan in one word: perseverance.  She has taught me to always look ahead and never give up.”

Client update

Megan graduated from Benedictine and now works for the University fulltime. She purchased a condominium through the Bridge Communities' shared-equity homeownership program.

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The vast majority of our families are headed by single moms. Their average age is 29. Last year, while at least 68% of those who entered our program have at least some postsecondary school if not higher education degrees, their average income at entry was $14/hour - well below a living wage.