Participant Stories: Crystal

Struggling with homelessness and expecting her third child, Crystal found her inspiration at an unlikely and dark moment in her life. Crystal recalls lying in a bunkbed at the Samaritan House shelter in Denver, terrified of the future and trying to hide the sound of her crying from her children who lay on the bed above her. “How could I end up here? How could I do this to my children?” Crystal said aloud to herself.

Her son Steven heard his mother and popped his head over the side of the bed, looked at his mom and told her, “You’re the best mama in the world. You’re still here and we are still a family.”

Thankfully today, Crystal and her family are in a much better place.

She completed CWEE’s training program, gaining soft skills like time management, computer skills, and support to succeed in the hiring process. Crystal’s one-on-one meetings with her case manager have helped her navigate the challenges she and her family face. With both personal and professional support from CWEE, Crystal earned her GED.

Crystal is just one of 300 Denver moms that CWEE helps train every year so they can launch careers, support their families and break the cycle of poverty. Since our founding in 1982, CWEE has helped more than 15,000 moms lift their families out of poverty.

CWEE paves a path to long-term employment and self-sufficiency for moms.

And it’s not just moms – the economic opportunity and stability of parents has a direct impact on the health and well-being of their children. CWEE is among Denver’s leading anti-poverty organizations, and our program is proven to make a difference for families like Crystal’s.

Crystal has always been a mom – even long before she had her own kids. Crystal’s own mother struggled with addiction, and as the oldest of five children, Crystal basically raised her siblings. Now, she is raising her own three children — as well as her nephew, the son of one of Crystal’s brothers who also has serious addiction challenges.

Far from being discouraged by the challenges she faces, Crystal is able to find even deeper motivation to work toward her goals. Once she has her GED, Crystal hopes to become an addiction counselor and work with other moms. As someone who knows all too well the devastating impacts of drug and alcohol abuse, Crystal wants to help other women struggling in similar situations.

Crystal still has some way to go to reach her goals. But she’s also come so far since that night in the Samaritan House.

Crystal finds the true measure of her accomplishment in the happiness and success of her children, who are thriving. Her son Steven, the same little boy who lifted her spirits that night in the shelter, is now eight and excelling in school. Steven tells his teachers how happy he is that his mom is in school just like he is.

“I know that me working hard has been inspiring for my kids,” Crystal said. “What my kids don’t know is how much they have inspired me.”