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In Their Words: Collected Stories
The stories on this page reflect the experiences of real clients, volunteers and staff. We thank them for sharing them with us, and with you, our readers.
“I was afraid to answer the phone. I didn’t open my mail. I was falling deeper and deeper into debt, and didn’t know how to handle it.” It wasn’t one big thing that had sent Avone’s finances into a tailspin—just one small thing after another, coupled with poor money management skills and mental health problems. Her salary from her full time job was never enough to cover her bills. When she heard about FSW’s Homeowners Assistance Program, her home was already in foreclosure. ...Read more
Dannaleen and her fiance Robert, who are both deaf, had been sweethearts for four years. They courted via email until she was able to come from the Philippines to the United States in September of 2010. The couple was married soon after, and began their life together in Bridgeport. ...Read more
“I was introduced to graphics through my pastor,” says Mark. “I wanted to be able to help him produce the materials for our church.” Mark found he had a talent for the work, and began to study different graphic design programs. Church members who saw the work he did were soon asking him to produce business cards and fliers. ...Read more
Ask Margaret what she enjoys doing most and her face lights up. “I love to dance; hip hop, jazz, ballet, West African. I do it all at Music for the Arts where I’ve studied and performed for eight years.” But dance isn’t the only thing in this Central Magnet student’s life. ...Read more
“My tutor has opened my eyes to many things in America,” says Jacques, in his pleasant accent. Jacques is a Haitian physician. He’s been in this country nearly two years, and is studying to pass his medical board exams, so that he do his residency here, before returning to Haiti to help his people. Every doctor must pass the same four-step exam in the United States, regardless of his native tongue, and even though he may have practiced, as Jacques did, in his own country.
It was 2005 when Nadja's life began to fall apart. She had just gotten divorced from her abusive husband. She had been forced to sell her home and had quit her job. Then she found out she was pregnant. In desperation, she got back together with the baby's father, her ex-husband. ...Read more
"I can't believe that I'm in college now!" Ashon says.
The twenty-seven year old man remembers when he moved from Jamaica to the United States, to be with his mother. He was fifteen, but had never learned to read. The school didn't know that, and didn't take the time to find out. ...Read more
"One morning the doorbell rang. When I opened the door a woman that I did not know told me she was from the DCF. I couldn't understand why she was there." Juslaine tells her story through a deaf interpreter. She and her husband, Angel, are both deaf, and communicate using American Sign Language. ...Read more
Katherine O'Shea is a busy woman. She is FSW's Micro Credit Businesses Program Coordinator, an ESOL program coordinator for Literacy Volunteers and an advisor/assessor for FSW's LV National External Diploma Program. She is also an enthusiastic supporter of “Steps to a Brighter Future," because of a program she and her fellow co-workers did last year where they wore a pedometer each day throughout the week. ...Read more
Jon first came to FSW in the spring of 2004. Recently laid off from his job as a reporter, he resolved to turn his part-time work as a photographer into a full time career. A friend told him about FSW's Workshops in Business Opportunities (WIBO). Jon enrolled in the sixteen-week program, and graduated in June 2004. ...Read more
Betty couldn’t believe it when her landlady raised the rent $400. Her work at a funeral parlor, although sometimes sporadic, had always been enough to provide a comfortable living for herself and her 15 year old son Kevin. Now it was difficult. When the rent went up another $500 within a few months, Betty knew she’d have to do something. But how could she afford to move? Where could she find a place that wouldn’t disrupt Kevin’s life too much? ...Read more
"I started my first job in 1981, at 18 years of age. I have been with U.S. Surgical Company (now Covidien) for 27 years and I like working there. I have two children, Stephanie, who is 16 and Frankie, who is 14. We were living together in a rented apartment for 12 years, but the living conditions got worse in the last six years. I wanted to do better for myself and my children. I wanted to send my daughter to college and I wanted to get out of our awful apartment. ...Read more
“Horses have always been my passion. As one of eight children, my parents had little time for me, so horses opened up new opportunities. I started riding my pony at age 8. In 9th grade, my mother gave me a leather crafting set. I learned all I could about the art, eventually repairing and reconditioning saddles and other horse equipment for myself and others. ...Read more
Jasmine and her siblings were raised in NYC’s Lower East Side. Their father died when she was 11 and her mother when she was 16. Her grandmother, a strict and religious woman, took custody, but threw Jasmine out when she became pregnant. By age 17, she had a son and only the social security benefits from her parents to live on. “My grandmother helped shape the woman I am today by forcing me to take responsibility for my actions,” said Jasmine. At age 18, I applied for a GED and to my surprise I passed the requirements. ...Read more
I have worked all my life and provided the fees for my husband to get his electrician’s license. Although we were able to cover our expenses, my husband would get very agitated every time the subject of money came up. ...Read more
"My mother is in prison. She has been a drug addict all of my life. At age 4, my sister, two brothers and I were put in foster homes. Only my sister and I stayed together. ...Read more
I grew up in Bridgeport; the oldest of five. My grandmother raised me because my mother was a drug addict. I was enrolled in the Boston School for the Deaf until age nine, when I transferred to a high school for the deaf in Massachusetts. ...Read more
I am 39 years old and was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT by my mother. At six weeks old I was rushed to the hospital with seizures and almost died. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a hearing impairment. From ages one to twelve I took seizure medications. At age thirteen I stopped having seizures. ...Read more