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With the support of CIS, our students stay in school, graduate and go on to bright futures. They all have a story about their journey to who they are today. Alumna Maci shares hers.

I come from a single mother household, the youngest of four and the only girl. It was never easy for my family. My family went through times of living in a homeless shelter, being hungry, not having a car and facing multiple eviction notices. At eight years old, I remember living in a one-bedroom place with my mother and three older brothers. We didn’t have water or gas, and often times we would go to my grandmother’s house to fill up gallons of water. We poured those gallons of water into a pot and boiled hot water as our way of cleaning ourselves. We couldn’t take showers or baths – we used our pots of hot water and a wash rag to clean up. Along with those gallons of water to boil, we used a few to pour down the toilet after using the restroom to flush the toilet. When winter came around, we didn’t have gas so we had to open up the oven for hot air to circulate throughout the house as our heat ventilation. This can be harmful to children if they are not careful enough. I was embarrassed to be a “normal” kid at that age. I was uncomfortable with having friends at my house, so I chose not to invite them over. This never meant my mother wasn’t hardworking or didn’t love her children more than anything. She has faced obstacles in her life and has become a better woman because of it. I look up to her in so many ways.

When times became rough to the point of eviction, we stayed with my grandmother. My father was an alcoholic and was never a part of my life. As my brothers became older and left the house, I started experiencing my own obstacles throughout high school. This time was different. There were several deaths on my father’s side, along with my closest grandmother being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. A year later, she passed away, and due to the recent loss of my grandmother whom my mother and I lived with, emotions were out of control. This was during my senior year of high school and when I was introduced to Communities In Schools. At the time, my father re-entered the picture, my mom lost her job and her car, and we were now facing yet another eviction notice.

I watched my mother, a licensed practical nurse, go to the workforce center every single day and have no hope of finding a new job. I was hurt seeing that she was disappointed in letting me down, I could see she was trying her best, and I did not feel any anger or resentment towards her. My father did not have a job at the time and took no part or initiative in helping towards any bills, which made me boil. At one point, there was physical violence between my father and I because I was tired of the same cycle repeating itself.

I finally wanted to take initiative and ask for help after being silent. With the help of CIS, I received assistance from a community of people who deeply wanted to help my family through canned goods, monetary donations, and most importantly, love I never knew existed. Obstacles were still there, but with the amount of positivity and support I received, I was able to enjoy my senior year. I then started setting goals for myself. I decided to become an advocate for those living in poverty. I created my platform initiative, Poverty to Prosperity, which educates underprivileged individuals to achieve success through seeking resourceful services, enabling every individual in this country an opportunity to strive towards the American Dream.

After graduating, I wanted to stay involved with CIS, so I began partnering with CIS of Mid-America on my initiative. My career goal is to become an entertainment broadcast journalist, and to become involved with music and film industry. My work with the Miss America and Miss Kansas organizations have given me the professional tools to not only network with several organizations, but to impact as many lives as possible with my powerful testimony and message. My motto is “Through hard work and perseverance, anyone can utilize their obstacles in life as a stepping stone towards the American Dream and springboard into success.” My goal is to help inspire others to utilize their obstacles in life to become successful.

From losing one of the most important women in my life, and witnessing the struggle throughout my childhood; I have a new appreciation, perspective and value for every obstacle I face in my life.

- November 2016

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