Yesenia’s Journey to Independence: Part 1

Yesenia loves her family above all else. The mother of two spent nearly a decade happily married, focusing on raising her children and taking care of her home. But, as many of us know, life can take incredibly unexpected turns.


After 10 years, Yesenia’s husband began abusing and belittling her, putting her and her two children in an incredibly unsafe situation. “I felt like I was trapped, and my life no longer had purpose,” she said.


As her husband became more controlling and abusive, Yesenia knew she had to escape. “I wanted a better quality of life for my children and wanted to set goals for myself that I could and would accomplish.”


Yesenia was terrified of her husband and knew she had to get her children to safety, but she faced some major obstacles. Her English proficiency was at about 20%, and she had not been in the workforce for many years. She felt incredibly lost and simply wanted some way to become independent. She turned to her friend Amanda for help, who referred her to United Way of Central Indiana partner Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center.


“When I first met Yesenia, she was unemployed and the abuse in her relationship was escalating by the day,” says Maria Baca Vilchez, Yesenia’s Community Supports Coach at MRNC. “From day one, Yesenia has been incredibly motivated to learn and grow as a person and as a mother.”


Maria coached Yesenia in the areas of income, employment and financial planning through MRNC’s Center for Working Families. From the get go, Yesenia had a very clear long-term goal. “I wanted to become independent enough to end the relationship and not have to worry about financial instability,” she shared. “I wanted to set an example for my children that there aren’t barriers that would stop them from achieving their goals, even language barriers.”


Yesenia MRNC HSE graduate

The first thing Yesenia wanted to accomplish was to speak English fluently, so she enrolled in MRNC’s English Language Learners (ELL) classes. Although she had graduated from high school in Mexico, Yesenia wanted to take her education further. After successfully completing her ELL classes, she enrolled in High School Equivalency (HSE) classes. She also enrolled in the Fuel for School Program, where she was able to learn new job search and personal finance skills.


Within just a year, Yesenia was speaking English fluently, developing strong personal finance skills and had her HSE diploma in hand. With the knowledge she gained from the Fuel for School Program, Yesenia secured a job and was able to move into her own apartment with her two children.


“These programs opened doors for a better future and for a better quality of life for my children and I; I now feel empowered and knowledgeable. All my efforts and hard work are paying off,” she stated.


Thanks to you, stories like Yesenia’s happen every day. Your support ensures Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center can continue being a leader in empowering adult education and job training programs in Indianapolis. Last year alone, nearly 400 adults received intensive individualized employment and financial coaching through their CWF site.


Yet Yesenia’s story does not end here. Yesenia’s journey to reaching another goal, becoming a homeowner, continues here.


Yesenia’s Story Continues