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The Journey

There was a time when Stephanie didn't know where she was going. Not anymore. She has a plan. She has a destination. And she's going to get there. Count on it.

Stephanie has places to go. She breezes into the Seacoast Family Promise Day Center in Exeter, outfitted in her nurse scrubs and slides behind the table. You can tell she’s got a full agenda for the day, but she had graciously carved out time to talk about her life to this point. We say “to this point,” because if there’s one gigantic takeaway that emerges from this conversation, it’s that Stephanie is not close to finishing the complete story of her life.

Not. Even. Close.

She begins her narrative in Connecticut, eight years ago, where Stephanie found herself living with her newborn son and, suddenly, due to unforeseen circumstances, she was forced into an immediate change to her living situation. That is: she was homeless.

Meanwhile, her other children, who she shared in joint custody, were in New Hampshire. The walls were closing in, but Stephanie had a singular goal:

“I had to get back to my kids,” she says. “It was a tough place to be in at the time, both economically and emotionally.”

So she jumped in her little Volkswagen with her son and made for the Granite State. Prior to her departure she had done extensive research about the resources that were available, and Seacoast Family Promise had risen to the top as the gold standard organization.

“I called Seacoast Family Promise and was there within three days,” she says. “I was just so shaken I was even in that situation with my child. I was scared. I was coming from a tough domestic situation and had no place where I could go where my child could be safe. I was afraid he was going to wind up in the hands of someone who isn’t safe. I felt grateful that I had a safe place and I was surprised to find it so quickly.”

Stephanie stayed with the program for four months. She had found a place with support, and, more valuably, the opportunities to rebuild her life from the ground up .

“My primary goal during that time was to provide for my son and to make sure that I did everything possible so that he didn't end up in a more dangerous situation. It was adrenaline and survival mode: I had to get this done.”

But what was “this?” For Stephanie, it was more than just feeling safe or having her basic needs met or graduating from a program. No, she wanted more for herself and for her young family. Already an LNA at the time, Stephanie set her sights on a bigger prize: earning her credentials as a registered nurse.

“My primary goal during that time was to provide for my son and to make sure that I did everything possible so that he didn't end up in a more dangerous situation. It was adrenaline and survival mode: I had to get this done.”

If she was going to achieve the success that would grant her increased financial security and independence, she knew that she would have to take a more dramatic professional leap. But how would a single mom, just climbing out of an brutal domestic situation and, of course, homelessness, find the time to pull this off?

“I just had to squeeze everything in,” she says. “You just gotta do it. You can't allow fear to put all these blockages in your mind. So I had to plan. I had to sacrifice. I had to adapt. But I made sure that I didn't make excuses, even when I thought it seemed impossible. I told myself: okay, I have a plan.”

Amidst her supernatural balancing act of parenting/work/education, she has since traveled ever closer to her goal of becoming an RN. As it stands now, seven years removed as a Seacoast Family Promise guest, she will become a credentialed RN in August 2024.

But that is not the culmination of the journey.

“My end goal is to become a cardiologist,” she says. “I'm going to push myself to get there. Before, I was just working for myself. Now I’m working for my children.”

The arrow is pointing up for Stephanie and when she looks back at the dark times of her homelessness experience and the leap of faith she took when she upended her life to move to New Hampshire, she sees the foundational takeaway from Seacoast Family Promise:

“Structure,” she says. “This program gives you that. It helps get you on the right path. A lot of people allow their pride and ego to get in the way of realizing that you're actually not alone. Everyone here, they’ve become my family.”

Stephanie smiles, says thanks, gathers her things, and gets ready to leave, moving on to the next stop of her day.

Yep, she is going places.


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