Brandi, a single mom of three active young boys, is the definition of success in the making. Brandi left home at a young age with just a seventh grade education. She often found herself homeless and with nowhere safe to turn. Soon she became addicted to opiates. After moving to Bangor, she got clean and enrolled in a program that started to teach her the work skills she needed. She also got her GED. But the tough times continued when she found herself in a violent relationship with the father of her two older children. With support of those around her, she found the strength she needed to break free and start to rebuild her life.
Stable again, Brandi was selected to participate in a pilot program with Literacy Volunteers’ Executive Director and certified poverty coach, Mary Marin Lyon. During that six weeks Brandi went from an ambivalent, skeptical, often late and sometimes angry participant to a hopeful, motivated mother wanting to achieve more for herself and her family. The pivotal moment came when she was simply asked, “where would you like to go?” This was a question she had never been asked before. It had never occurred to her that college was an option and that breaking free of what she now knows is “generational poverty” was achievable for her and her children.
From there Brandi’s life began to take shape. She started working with a Literacy Volunteer tutor to help her with spelling, grammar and writing. Her first motivation was to write journals for her children that they would be proud of when they were older.
She then received help from a mentor to help her navigate middle class systems, like school and work. She received children’s books and pointers on how to engage her children with letters, numbers, books and language–the beginning tools they would need to be successful in school. Brandi is proud of the fact that her children now have their own personal libraries, as she was not read to as a child.
Brandi is currently enrolled in the automotive program at Eastern Maine Community College and proudly just got her first A. For the first time in her life, she is experiencing academic success. Brandi’s children understand that, like them, Momma goes to school. This further engages them in learning.
Through improved literacy, language, and education, Brandi now presents herself with much more confidence. She recognizes the potential in herself. She is hopeful for her future and sees herself as the change agent instead of the victim of circumstance.
Brandi is carving out a different path for her and her boys. Her future includes being an automotive technician and owning her own home. But most importantly to Brandi, her children will not repeat the cycle of low literacy and poverty that she experienced. Brandi is truly the definition of success in the making.