Defying the Odds with Indianapolis Urban League


At 32 years of age, Rachel, a mother of two and educated in accounting and medical administration, expected to be in a career and happy by this point in her life. Instead, she was just trying to survive. After escaping an abusive relationship and suffering through identity theft, Rachel’s home was now her car. Her children were safe at a relative’s house but she couldn’t care for them without finding a home, gaining employment, and starting over.


“It was hard for me to even look in the mirror and admit to myself this is what I’m going through,” shared Rachel. “I couldn’t make my situation any harder than it already was.”


When Rachel walked into the Indianapolis Urban League (IUL), the staff knew she would the right fit for the Family Engagement Program – a program based in the practice of the Two-Generational Approach (2Gen).


“Our program assists students, parents, and children. We are about lifting the whole family,” said Kimberly Simmons, vice president of programs at IUL. “Rachel needed a career coach, a financial coach, and a family coach. We showed her she wasn’t in this alone, and that in and of itself, gave her hope.”



It wasn’t an easy path for Rachel, however. To begin the journey, IUL referred Rachel to a shelter for a safe place to stay. But when she missed curfew one evening, Rachel wasn’t permitted to return. Although frustrated, Rachel continued to work hard with her Income and Support Coach and Engagement Program Coach to complete a budget, professional plan and family success plan.


“Even in so much hardship, IUL encouraged me to smile, work hard, and pray,” Rachel said. “The support helped me more than just having a new start to life. The program helped my self-esteem.”


Gaining even more confidence, Rachel secured a training credential to further develop her skills and completed the IUL Training Works application for future employment opportunities. IUL provided transportation assistance to meet with her coaches, attend educational classes through Warren Township, and conduct job searches.


2Gen programs don’t stop with just income, employment and budgeting supports. They are meant to wrap around an entire family and improve health and well-being. Instructed by IUL’s Engagement Coach, Rachel and her children participated together in family activities and healthy food demonstrations. They read books together and re-connected to each other, emotionally. For the first time, Rachel learned how to best support her children’s learning in school. Today, the family continues to remain active in the program.


All this work has paid off. Rachel recently became a pharmacy clerk with CIGNA. The position offers Rachel the opportunity to learn additional skills that would support her training as a pharmacy technician. Although Rachel has safe temporary housing, she is very determined to adhere to her budget and success plan. Even with the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Rachel participates in mental health counseling sessions for IUL parents impacted by the coronavirus.


Rachel’s oldest child graduated this spring from Ben Davis High School. She continues to be present in her children’s lives daily, assists them with e-learning, and continues to secure a safe, stable home for her family.