Last year, I lost my job and was severely behind in my rent. The stress of dealing with avoiding eviction was a major obstacle in adequately addressing the mounting challenges I faced in my life. In addition, because of a previous incorrect tax filing, I owed the IRS money, resulting in wage garnishment. With an impeding eviction and no foreseeable options, my silver lining came through the B Strong Initiative. The B Strong Initiative is a crisis intervention initiative that provides real time emergency assistance to women who are facing a looming crisis that threatens their stability. Included in the initiative are digitized confidence building, crisis intervention and management education; an assigned life coach; and personalized wrap around services.
To manage my crisis, Dress for Success staff recommended I apply for the HRA One Shot deal in order to avoid eviction, and to offer the IRS a payoff amount so that once I acquired gainful employment my paycheck would be safe from garnishment. Both suggestions successfully addressed my challenges: HRA approved my One Shot application, effectively paying my rent arrears, and not only did the IRS accept my offer, but the B Strong Initiative paid my debt! As a very special added benefit, the B Strong Initiative provided me with a professional makeover to assist me in securing permanent employment to avoid the implications of underemployment and not only successfully support myself, but thrive.
One of my favorite quotes is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” by Maya Angelou. From my very first contact with Dress for Success, I felt valued and surrounded by positivity. I came through the doors of Dress for Success as a wounded person, unable to face my issues, afraid of being hurt and failing again. With all of the skills and expertise I possessed at the time, I still needed advice and exhortations from people who have had their own trials and do not wear them outwardly, but focus to allow the insight from the tests to develop integrity and character. Change can only happen if you give it the attention it deserves. I realized that none of the challenges I’d faced in life were wasted, but rather collectively served as a launch pad to allow me a glimpse of my future. Once I accepted that I can be anything I choose to be, my desire became to be my best version of myself, so I can do my best and graciously give my best to others.
Another one of my favorite quotes is, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going,” by Beverly Sills. I have learned there is life after adversity. As I continue on my journey, which now includes pursuing my bachelor’s in order to gain the credentials and knowledge to best advocate for others, I recognize there are some insights gained only through experience, and Dress for Success continues to be part of this experience, serving as a support mechanism in my growth and achievement. That life grants adversity can be a gift; that we must work hard for the life we want; that any goal we have comes with a test and we must be up for the challenge in order to achieve the goal are not classroom lessons, but rather life lessons. Attaining a goal does not come without sacrifice, and I am grateful for the sacrifices of the many women of Dress for Success who have helped empower me. Furthermore, I am appreciative of the B Strong Initiative for providing me with the tools, resources, and coaching needed to ensure I make wise decisions and enact best practices to avoid repeating negative patterns and situations.
To support our BStrong initiative and women like Belinda, donate today.