Raising a seven year old daughter and expecting a little boy on her own, Sharonda felt the day-to-day burden of trying to make ends meet for her family. After making a mistake and facing prison time for being involved in something she didn’t even know was a crime, Sharonda's struggles started to become seemingly insurmountable.
With nowhere and no one to turn to, Sharonda had no one to help her fight the charges. Scared of losing her family and unable to imagine giving birth in prison, she chose to accept a plea deal to avoid going to prison, not fully understanding how this choice would affect her future long-term. Accepting the plea deal admitted guilt, resulting in a criminal record which hurt Sharonda's chance of earning any job with the earning potential to support her and her family.
Sharonda's only options for employment were low-paying jobs, most in factories. She'd come home tired and bruised from assembly line shifts, but refused to quit knowing she had a family to take care of. She dreamed of a better job, even one that was hard labor, whatever was necessary to give her children a better life. She'd often feel alone in her fight for this better future, as every ask for help seemed to lead to just another door shut in her face.
One day Sharonda received a flyer from a friend telling her about a program to help single moms called WE3 (Women Empowered, Educated, and Employed). After reading and rereading the program information, Sharonda agreed to try it out, albeit with a skeptical attitude. In her mind, if nothing else worked, why would this? But as time went by and she attended several classes, she noticed that these women truly cared and they were determined to make Sharonda's dreams a reality. She too became determined to succeed, putting more effort into developing the skills she was taught and applying the principles she was learning, crying in class one day at the realization that her life would never be the same after the program.
After Sharonda's time with WE3, she was placed into a job with Columbia Gas. After a thorough and successful training period, Sharonda started full time as an emergency responder, making a good wage with full benefits, and putting her strong work ethic to use in a way that makes a difference.
Sharonda went on to earn a promotion with Columbia Gas and is now a homeowner, something she could never imagine before. With the continued support of WE3, the Community Collaborative was even able to guide her through the process of buying a home.
Throughout it all, Sharonda's proudest moment came as her daughter was preparing for college, worried that her mom made too much money to qualify for financial aid. Sharonda proudly responded, "Don't worry, Mommy's got this!"