When Gabriel Partee walked through the doors of Catholic Charities, the young mother of two had one goal in mind: “To be stable enough to provide for myself and my kids.’’
At 28, Gabriel, has children ages 9 and 3. She also has an associate’s degree in culinary arts. But when she arrived at Catholic Charities of West Tennessee (CCWTN), she had been living with her mother for about a year after losing her job, car and house following a personal hardship.
But Gabriel was determined to find another job and had sent out more than 100 applications with no luck. “I was about to give up.”
When a friend recommended the Driving the Dream program at CCWTN, Gabriel decided to give it a try. Catholic Charities is one of four care coordination hubs in Memphis for Driving the Dream, a United Way-funded program that approaches poverty much as a physician approaches any treatable condition. The care coordinator assesses issues contributing to a client’s poverty and connects them to necessary services to move them toward self-sufficiency.
In Gabriel’s case, that is exactly what happened. CCWTN care coordinator Deloris Clayborne arranged an interview for Gabriel at Patrick’s Restaurant, where she now works part-time as a cook. “That was a huge step for me,” she said. Gabriel was especially happy to learn that she could find employment doing something she enjoys.
With her new income, Gabriel was able to pay for an apartment, into which she recently moved. Her uncle helped her find a car to purchase. Now, Deloris is referring her to Porter-Leath to get Early Headstart services for her son, who is 3.
Gabriel will keep in touch with Deloris twice a month for the next 12 months as part of the Driving the Dream program, and she truly appreciates Deloris’ approach. “She seems like a mother to me, caring about how I’m feeling. You don’t find that very often.”
And Gabriel’s children appreciate their mother’s newfound independence. “My daughter loves it when I drop her off at school and pick her up,’’ Gabriel said. “She was waiting for that.”
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