Within a few minutes of meeting Donisha, there is no question you are meeting someone who is determined to accomplish her goals and create a better life for herself and her young son. The struggles Donisha has overcome in her life, including juvenile delinquency, are part of the driving force that propels her forward.
“About a year ago, I moved here from Chicago to give my son, who’s three, a better future,” Donisha says. “I don’t have any family here. I want to do my own thing and not let anything get in the way of my goals. I came to win.”
Although Donisha was able to find employment on her own when she arrived in Minneapolis, she needed help with housing. She was put in touch with the Gateway Program at NorthPoint, which helps families receiving assistance through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and who face multiple challenges obtain employment and family stability before losing their MFIP benefits. The Gateway Program helped Donisha find an apartment.
Andrea Carter is a family facilitator with the Gateway Program and has been working with Donisha. “She is a go-getter,” says Andrea. “Donisha is setting goals and getting things done. She has been in the program less than a year but has accomplished a great deal, including completing her CNA (certified nursing assistant) training. I’m very proud of her.”
Donisha is currently working as a part-time personal care attendant while she looks for a CNA job, ideally working in a nursing home, which will give her more consistent employment. She has gotten herself off cash assistance and is working on taking herself off all public assistance. “It’s more challenging to do what you’re supposed to than to sit back and let others take care of you,” she says. “I don’t want to be on assistance. I don’t want my son to be labeled.”
Where does she get her drive? “From my mom,” says Donisha. “We were raised in the projects. My mom worked for the Boys and Girls Club for about 30 years. I had a job at 14 helping with summer programs. I was raised with the idea that if you want something you have to go get it. Recently, my mom texted me to say she’s proud of me. I’m proud of myself for doing what I need to do.”
“The Gateway program works with our clients to help them set goals,” says Andrea. “I’ve watched Donisha accomplish her goals. She is one of those people who you point in the right direction and she does the work. She is in a better position now which gives her more options.”
“Another goal I want to complete is getting a driver’s license in MN,” says Donisha. “That’s the next thing.” Andrea nods and smiles. “I have no doubt she’ll get it done. I know she’ll come and tell me, “Ms. Carter look what I’ve done.”
“I love Gateway. I’m really happy,” says Donisha. “They’ve helped me get where I need to be and have given me hope. I go to group meetings and have one-on-one coaching. I love what they do for us. This is my honeycomb hideout, my go-to. NorthPoint won’t lead you in the wrong direction. That means everything to me.”
What does success look like for Donisha? “Fifteen years from now I want to be my own boss,” she says. “I want to get my real estate license. I want to support others in their businesses. I want to travel, go to Africa. I want to understand what Africa really means. And I want to take my son to Disney World. It will be our first family vacation.”
Editor's Note: Donisha has recently completed her work with the Gateway program and Andrea now works with NorthPoint's Co-Parent Program as a Navigation Facilitator. We wish them well with their new endeavors!
The Gateway Program helps Hennepin County MFIP recipients* and their families increase their family strength and stability and move toward self-sufficiency through case management, leveraging community resources, and creating a plan to meet their needs with adequate housing, education, employment, physical / behavioral / social health, and familial relationships/parenting. To learn more please call: 612-767-9500.
*The Minnesota Family Investment Program, or MFIP, is the state's welfare reform program for low-income families with children. MFIP includes both cash and food assistance.