Your generosity can help Step Up members thrive! Diamond, 25, is a bright and highly-motivated member of Step Up’s workforce development team at Second Street. Diamond has been living in her own apartment in Los Angeles for three years now with the help of Step Up’s permanent supportive housing services! Along the way, she has not only gotten housed but also begun workforce training in both cooking and reception. She is always looking ahead, “To me, I feel like this is just the beginning. I’m just getting started!”
Diamond was in middle school when her family started house hopping and car camping. When her parents split up, she went to live with her dad and two of her six siblings. Because her dad drove tow trucks, the family slept at motels on a lot of his trips. “That was the first time I really felt homeless,” Diamond remembers. Her parents eventually saved enough to get an apartment in Inglewood, where she spent most of her high school years.
After graduating high school, Diamond’s family lost their housing again. Her father left and her mother began drinking heavily. When it didn’t work for her to stay with relatives, Diamond began sleeping in parks and on the street. She says the most difficult thing about being homeless was finding a safe place to sleep. One day, a routine medical visit led to a referral to Daniel’s Place, Step Up’s program for transition age youth (TAY) ages 16-28 experiencing homelessness. She remembers her first Daniel’s Place case workers, “They actually took the time to help and followed through. They helped me by giving me guidance and support in ways I can’t even repay.”
Daniel’s Place worked with Diamond to get her quickly housed and she now lives in her own apartment. “I love my apartment,” Diamond says, “It feels great to have your own space, your own peace of mind…without having to feel like you’re not safe.” Once housed, Diamond entered into Step Up’s workforce training program beginning in janitorial. She then transitioned into working at the kitchen at Step Up on Second starting in the dish pit; and she is now the head lead in the kitchen preparing meals. Diamond now manages the ordering, cooking all the meals, and some cleaning. The team makes 55 meals a day in individual to-go plates that are distributed on weekday afternoons.
Diamond attributes her current drive and inspiration to the workforce development team that gave her a job after she was housed. In particular, she is grateful for the Operations Director, Frank Hendricks, “He is one of the calmest, most professional co-workers you could have. He’s not someone who just says it, he’s actually going to get in there and do it.” Diamond is now expanding beyond the kitchen into a reception job. She is enjoying the process of learning how to communicate with potential clients and likes organizing and filing. Diamond clearly loves the learning opportunity and the feeling is mutual. Operations Program Manager Ariella Spector puts it this way, “It’s been a wonderful experience just watching her grow and blossom. Watching her be so motivated to get her life on track, she’s young and exploring the options. Plus, she gives the best hugs.”
Anything is possible with hard work and dedication! Want to change lives of hardworking members like Diamond?