In September, Gloria got a new job and enrolled in college. A single mom, she and her son just moved into a new home, and she enrolled him in a new school. Those might sound like typical transitions. But just over a year ago, such new beginnings seemed out of the question for Gloria.

Leaving an abusive relationship, Gloria and her son were homeless. She had dropped out of high school, and though she was working, her wages meant child care was unaffordable. Gloria learned she could earn a high school diploma, tuition free, at Goodwill of Central Indiana's Excel Center. Goodwill is a United Way-funded agency.

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Goodwill's free on-site child care removed another obstacle for Gloria. After taking classes eight hours a day and completing online coursework, Gloria graduated Magna Cum Laude. She was quickly offered a job and then a promotion.

Having been at "my lowest point of despair," Gloria says getting her education has opened doors that changed her life. And, by making education a priority, she's setting an example for her son that can affect his future too. 

Gloria chokes up when she recalls her 5-year-old son's reaction at her graduation. After she received her diploma, he gave her a hug and proclaimed, "Mama, I'm really proud of you!"

Thanks to a community network that helped Gloria get what she needed to survive right away and keep her son safe and healthy while she went back to school, she is now self-sufficient.

Because you give, last year 5,000 people found jobs through United Way-supported programs which include a focus on income stability. Today, Gloria's pursuing a degree in social work where she looks forward to helping and inspiring others to succeed too.

Single-headed households with children and no high school degree have the highest poverty rate at 51 percent. That reality could be overwhelming. Gloria's advice? "Don't be a statistic. Be what you want to be."

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United Way invests more than $5.5 million overall to help people like Gloria have the tools and supports to create financial stability and independence. That focus on helping people make lasting changes in their lives — not just find quick fixes — enables your contributions to improve our whole community. Thank you!