Northside Voice: Lydia


This story told through a transcript from an interview with Lydia.

I have always worked all my life, but a lot of personal problems led me to lose my job. After missing two paychecks I was in a real deep problem, I owed rent, I didn’t have any money to do anything. So I lost my home shortly after I lost the job, and I was pregnant during the time. I had to go apply for AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children).

This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

Public assistance asked, ‘Were you trying to go back to school?’ and I said, ‘I didn’t know that it was an option for me.’ They offered a couple of classes for construction as well as healthcare. Neither one of those were the fields I want to go into. With those two options I was like, ‘I’m in a bad boat. I’m not working, I don’t want to go to school for healthcare, and I don’t want to go into construction and do labor work.’ I was used to more of the sales, the clerical part of working.

But a program through EMERGE offered more options, including community health work. After reading a little bit about it I came to find out that as a community health worker you are the source to people. That goes with what I’ve always been doing, I was the source for people when I was selling items or products. So I went on ahead and I started at Summit Academy last April.

At that point, I was coming from just passing my GED by the skin of my nose and I hadn’t been in college for several years, so it was very difficult and a struggle to get through that. But having the support of my family and having the program there – that’s what got me over the hump.

After completing the certification, I was offered a job at Northside Achievement Zone. My position will be building relationships with families in the Northside of Minneapolis and connecting them into the Northside Achievement Zone programs so that they can become more successful.

I’m very, very happy about where I’m going with this. I know my daughter can now be on time with schooling instead of trying to play catch up with schooling like I did.

Getting an education changed me – I swear I’m a new person today. Now I know in the long run I want to be a public speaker or a motivational speaker. That is where my passion and heart is at. I want to speak to people who are in doubt or who are having problems or are struggling. Because I was struggling; I was alone. Now I’m looking at a bigger picture. The little bothersome details are just running off, like rain on a raincoat.

Full disclosure: Madeline Graham is the communications coordinator of EMERGE Community Development.