Kristen's Story

“I cried.”

Tears of joy streamed down 33-year-old Kristen Calderon’s face the moment she learned that she had finally landed a job after years of unemployment.

Kristen wasn’t only jobless, she was also homeless with a baby.

Without a place to call their own, the young family stayed in shelters. The streets were no place for Kristen, and certainly not for little Javier, who is now three years old. Kristen calls him Javi.

“It was never part of my plan,” she said. “As a parent it is even harder, I can’t explain to Javi why we have nowhere to live.”

United Way and our partners helped the family find and pay for an apartment of their own. But that was just the beginning for Kristen. The next step was getting a job so that Kristen could support her family. Secure Jobs, a program that United Way Invests in at New Reach, helps people overcome nearly all of the obstacles that come with finding a job.

Creating a resume is hard enough, but imagine doing it without a computer or a printer. Try getting to an interview without a car. What about childcare? Most importantly, you would need training for in-demand skills to land a job. Secure Jobs helps people like Kristen pay for some of these costs. Each person enrolled in Secure Jobs also gets a team who helps them get organized, get focused, and gives them a confidence boost before a big interview.

Employment is the best way to keep people who were homeless in their new homes.

Because of your support United Way and our state partners have housed everyone who was chronically homelessness in Connecticut. Over the past two years, 220 people have been housed in greater New Haven alone. But newly identified chronically homeless people enter our system every day. And all people who have been housed need a way to maintain it. United Way is committed to that hard work.

Secure Jobs helped Kristen pay for a Community Health Worker certification program at Gateway Community College. Because of her hard work and determination, she landed a job as an Emergency Assistance Worker, helping people who are struggling to pay electric and heating bills.

This is work Kristen is passionate about, and for the first time she can see a professional future past the end of her shift.

Employment has created a sense of purpose for Kristen.

“This is what I want to do, help people. It’s a stepping stone! It’s the first job I ever had that wasn’t just to make money, it is a career path,” said Kristen.

A safe home, a job with meaning, and financial stability mark the end of Kristen’s old life, and the beginning of a new life filled with possibilities for Kristen and her son.

“I did it for Javi, I wanted him to have a better life than I did.”

“I did it for Javi, I wanted him to have a better life than I did.”