A Mother’s Strength

We meet people from all walks of life at our offices. No matter the person or the situation, our staff is there to help, support, and guide people in any way they can. We first met Courtney and her little girl, Sadie, when they visited us last year. Courtney hadn’t a clue of what her dreams were, what she wanted to do for a career, or even where to start. All she knew was that she wanted a better life for her family.

Courtney wanted to work on getting her diploma but didn’t know if she’d remember anything from high school or if she’d even have time to do it with Sadie at home. She decided to enroll in Wisconsin Works (W-2), a program that specializes in helping parents achieve their employment goals, where she was immediately connected to an Education Navigator team to help her get started on her journey to get her HSED.

The first couple of months, Courtney was having some issues attending her scheduled W-2 activities. Her Case Manager Sarah had an appointment scheduled to talk with her about her attendance and how important it was to complete her assignments. But it was that day when she learned a lot about what was going on in Courtney’s life, and everything started to make so much more sense. Below is Sarah’s recollection of her journey with Courtney:

“One cold morning, I got a message from our clerical staff that Courtney was at the office to see me. I went to talk to her and found her in the computer lab very upset. She had told me that her boyfriend – Sadie’s father, was mentally and verbally abusing her. Stunned, I asked her if Sadie was alright. She replied that she was okay, but saw everything that happened and was very upset and scared. I asked Courtney how I could help and offered to call the police and CPS with her. She accepted the help and met with police to pick up Sadie and gather some belongings for their stay at the Domestic Violence (DV) Shelter. I reported the incident to CPS as well, hoping that she could get enough support to get out of the situation.

We thought we were in the clear after that incident and were finally able to get through to Courtney about her options and resources to escape that toxic household. But as the dangerous cycle of domestic violence would predict, she ended up going back. As heartbreaking as it was to see Courtney and her daughter go back to this horrible situation, time after time, and to see her struggle in all aspects, from her W-2 activities to the couple of minimum wage jobs she managed to get, it was Courtney’s journey and I just had to support her through it.

Months went by and Courtney had found a part-time job but was currently at a standstill with getting her HSED. All I could do was keep checking in on her from time to time just to make sure she was okay and to see if she needed anything. But as the season changed, so did things for Courtney.

One day, Courtney called and told me that she finally did it. She finally left her boyfriend for good this time. I was ecstatic and so happy for her but was dreading hearing what led up to this decision. Courtney said that an altercation happened, only this time Sadie was involved. She knew she had to act quick to protect Sadie, so she made an escape plan with a good friend. With the car seat all ready to go in her friend’s car, all she had to do was text her friend the signal and it was go time. That day, Courtney’s friend picked them up and never looked back.

After that call, Courtney was a different Courtney than I had been working with this whole year. She was empowered, driven, and motivated. She continued to work with her Education Navigator to get back on track with her earning her HSED. For a few short months, Courtney stayed at the DV Shelter getting resources for housing, trauma counseling for her and Sadie, and legal advice for child support and gaining full custody of Sadie.

At the beginning of this year, Courtney officially completed all the requirements for her HSED! I emailed her and asked if she was able to come to the office to finalize paperwork and celebrate, she quickly said yes. She and her daughter came to the office, and I took her picture with her cap and gown. But that wasn’t her only exciting news. Courtney was offered a great job as a cashier, making even more money with more consistent hours! She will also be moving into her own apartment within the next couple of weeks!

I was over the moon and told her how proud I was of how far she’s come this year. She said “Sarah, you have no idea how much that means to me, thank you for everything you’ve done for me and Sadie.”

All of our success stories teach us a different life lesson. Courtney and Sadie’s story taught Sarah about being resilient in the worst situations, how to survive, never giving up, and how you can achieve any goal that you have, despite the opinions of others.

Congratulations on everything you’ve achieved this year, Courtney. Your bravery and strength to overcome is nothing short of amazing. Thank you for letting us be a part of your story. We wish you and little Sadie all the best in your future.