Jenesse Offers A Safety Net to Families in Need.
Where would the people of California be without the safety net that protects the most vulnerable? That is the question we grappled with two weeks ago during a State Budget briefing at the California Science Center.
Coordinated by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass who along with Assemblyman Mike Davis and their team provided a comprehensive overview of the budget deficit facing the State of California. The briefing included the history of the crisis, analysis of the Governor’s proposals to eliminate the safety net and consequences of a State without safety nets for its citizens.
I wanted to participate in the conversation about the impact of the proposed cuts. I will do so by telling the story of Jenesse Center and its work with women and children who need the safety net which our program provides.
Recently a supporter was taken on a tour of Jenesse’s four facilities. At the Educational Center (drop in center) staff member John Paul Wahnon told the story of a client who recently completed her GED. He remembered the young woman was brilliant. Jenesse provided this young woman and her family with shelter, supportive services, and calm. This calm ensured that a young woman who dropped out of school at 14 could return at 21 and earn her GED. She is an inspiration to her younger brother who said he now wants to make sure he graduates from high school. Without a safety net what would become of this brilliant young woman?
Here is her story.
On June 18, 2009, Jenesse staff members attended her graduation from the ECC Mid-Wilshire Center, a division of adult and career education for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Dana came into the shelter with her mother and her sixteen-year-old brother in December 2008, all had been abused.
Dana’s graduation is a triumph for her entire family. Her brother was so excited that he could not sleep the night before. He kept repeating that he couldn’t believe that his sister had actually finished high school. He told his tearful mother that if his sister could go back to school and get her diploma after dropping out of school, then he could finish high school and go to college.
Their mom said that coming to Jenesse was the hardest, but the most rewarding thing that she and her family had ever done. Hard because it meant leaving their home and friends, rewarding because it gave her the peace she needed to focus on herself and her future.
Dana is currently enrolled in community college and holds down a part time job. She is looking forward to being able to have her own apartment.
Dana is just one example of the young women in our community who fall through the cracks because of domestic violence. Bright, funny and a hard worker she had dropped out of high school at 14 because she couldn’t concentrate on school and deal with her home life, and by 20 she was full of energy and drive, but directionless.
Finding sanctuary in our Emergency and Transitional Shelters for herself and her family, attending counseling sessions, and participating in our domestic violence education, mental health and vocational education classes helped Dana reclaim her self worth and create a plan for the future while inspiring her mother and brother to move beyond the hurt and pain to self sufficiency through job skills and education.
Dana is an inspiration for all citizens and an example of how programs like Jenesse and the State of California partner to provide a safety net for families.