Unable to afford rent in Boston, Rosis’ family was trying to get by living with friends and extended family members, jumping from place to place. After a long struggle, they entered a homeless shelter where they and all of their possessions occupied one room. It was at the shelter that Rosis heard about Horizons for her sons, Christopher (3) and Armani (1).
“I immediately felt a sense of relief when I walked in the door,” she said. “Horizons helped me figure out a path to move forward. They partnered with me on my children’s education and gave me guidance to continue my schooling and search for housing. I am now finishing courses needed to complete my Certificate in Child Development from Urban College.”
Rosi works closely with Sheila, her Family Advocate (case worker), on a strengths-based coaching approach that aims to overcome the extreme stresses of poverty. Our in-house Family Advocates work with parents to help them develop goals and a plan to achieve those goals. We assist parents with accessing resources including education, job training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and other services that they need to be successful.
The majority of goals are in the education and employment categories. Our Family Advocates act as mentors, coaches, and accountability partners. We provide workshops for parents in topics such as financial literacy, child development, and nutrition, and support their search for and transition to the most appropriate next school for their children. Parents learn financial management skills and are assisted with establishing a savings plan and savings account. We partner with the Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment to provide 1:1 financial counseling. In addition, we provide opportunities for parents to be involved with the center and their children’s education and to form support networks, through parent breakfasts, teas, picnics, family celebrations, and other family-based activities.
Rosi has accomplished several goals during her time with us, including taking ESOL classes, paying off a school debt, and obtaining permanent housing for her family. “Even living in shelter, Rosis has been able to get an education while also being involved in her children’s classrooms.” said Sheila, who admires her tenacity. “Rosis is highly motivated, which I see every time we work together to set and accomplish more goals. She is always eager to read with her children, volunteer in the classroom, and participate during parent activities.”
Just as our Family Advocates do with our parents, teachers work with each child to ensure that they reach relevant developmental milestones and gain the social and emotional skills and academic foundation that they need to succeed. An individualized curriculum and lesson plans are adapted to meet the needs and progress of every child.
Rosis’ older son is also a star pupil in his classroom. “Since he started with us, Christopher has made progress in every area I hoped – and more,” said his teacher, Diego. “When he first started, we had concerns about his language and gross motor skills. He didn’t use many words and walking was very difficult for him. We tailored our curriculum to help him improve his speech and verbal skills and engaged with a physical therapist to identify specific exercises to enhance his physical skills. Now Christopher runs around with his friends on the playground with little issue.”
At Horizons, we take a full family approach. Our team is working day and night to ensure homeless children and their parents have the support they need to move forward. We get personal satisfaction when a family leaves us with the skills and confidence to succeed in life.
Here’s what Rosi had to say about her long term goal: “Ten years from now, I hope to be a teacher, making a difference in the lives of children like Horizons has for mine!”