There was a time when Kizzy Texeira had just $500 to her name, a housing voucher, three young children who depended upon her, along with a list of things she was determined to accomplish. Today, she’s a college graduate, a home owner, a successful visiting case manager, and a proud mom of three exceptional children.
“We had nothing and I had to make some big moves to change our situation. I wanted to do so much, I had things to accomplish, but I didn’t know where to start” Kizzy shared. Kizzy moved to the US from Puerto Rico to start a new life for herself and her girls just five years ago. Full time work that would pay enough to support her family and make ends meet was difficult to find in Puerto Rico and her girls, 6, 15, and 16 years old needed her. Upon arriving in the US Kizzy and her children stayed with relatives for the first couple of weeks, “we were technically homeless and I knew that I couldn’t let that be our reality, so I submitted my housing voucher and soon after we were set up in an apartment with Harrisburg Housing Authority.”
That could have been the end of the story, but Kizzy wanted more. She had dreams of a career, a car, and a home she could call her own. She set out researching her options and while she found many paths to take, it was confusing and overwhelming for her. “I needed a guide to help get me there. I didn’t want to raise my children in housing, I wanted a yard, and bedrooms, and a sunny street with friends. I had a list of things I wanted to do, my dreams, for me and for my girls, and things to achieve, but I didn’t know where to go and how to make it all happen. You can feel trapped in that life. I knew I had to keep going.”
With a roof over their heads, Kizzy knew her next step would be to find a good paying job so she could make ends meet and save for her dreams. She started looking for work and applying to everywhere she could even be considered remotely qualified. She heard no a lot, and with no transportation, no degree, and being new to the area, she understood, but she was undeterred.
She would have to go to school too, she decided. “I didn’t want to be stuck in the system for the rest of my life” she said. “I wanted to be a positive role model for my girls and show them how to succeed.” That’s when she connected with Tri County Community Action. Kizzy and her case manager made lists and lists of goals, opportunities, and things to do. And they reviewed them 100 times over. Her TCCA case manager shared, “Kizzy was so determined to get out of the system and on to her own two fee that she would send emails to me at 3 in the morning with ideas and possibilities”
Together, her next big step was to set up a savings account with Dauphin County Housing, from there, she enrolled in the CareerLink program, and soon after, landed a job at a medical billing company. She continued in that role where she was promoted within just 6 months and in another year, she was the manager of her department. Focused upon her goals and with the encouragement and guidance of her case manager, Kizzy went on to enroll in school at Penn State for her Associate’s Degree.
While continuing to work toward her dreams of self-sufficiency and success, Kizzy had not forgotten perhaps her biggest goal: When she arrived from PR she told everyone that she would purchase a home within two years. Her case manager connected her to our First Time Homebuyer Classes where she registered and attended all three of the workshops, and even followed up by meeting individually with our credit counselors to better understand her credit. Kizzy learned what to dispute, what to pay, and how to increase her score. Six short months later, she purchased her very first home for her and her children.
But that’s not all. Kizzy’s home was recently recognized as a “People’s Choice Merit Award Winner” by her local neighborhood revitalization community. She has continued to work hard toward her goals and is just one semester away from graduating with a degree in both education and social sciences and is working full time as a visiting outreach specialist providing case management to mothers and families experiencing poverty.
Kizzy plans to return to school in the fall to continue her education with more advanced degrees and will be double majoring in Social Sciences so that she could one day become a social worker and help clients in the same position as she herself had been.
“I kept hearing no, but Kizzy wasn’t giving up. Tri County Community Action helped me to reach every one of my goals. I don’t have to depend upon handouts, or on anyone. I can do this on my own and I’m going to show my girls that you can do anything in life. I hope I am already. Thank you, TCCA.”