This was a speech given as a Primavera grantee speaker at the 2017 Women's Foundation of Southern Arizona Annual Luncheon.
I gave birth to my daughter when I was 18 years old. I was married at 19 and divorced at 21. As a young single mother, I had to drop out of college and work full-time to support my daughter. Like so many single mothers, I put my dreams on hold to think of someone else.
When I dropped out of college, the only jobs I could get were in restaurants. My baby’s father was in and out of jail, and I fought for custody of my daughter.
Because I didn’t have a great job with benefits, I needed to ask my family for help. My daughter and I were moving every six months, because of my instability. Do you know what it’s like to have to ask your family for help? Can you imagine having a second family, with a young child, living in your home?
Many times, I heard: “I’m sorry. You can’t stay here.”
I worried a lot, and I prayed. I wanted to be a great mother. I wanted to provide for my daughter, but I didn’t know how.
My aunt told me about the Primavera Foundation. At first, they helped me create a budgeting plan. Then, they taught my daughter about finances. Finally, I got a steady job, with benefits, health insurance and predictable hours.
For the first time in my life, I no longer felt like I was all on my own.
More than anything, I wanted my daughter to grow up with a stable life, with stable housing. I started taking classes at Primavera about homeownership. At first, I thought, buying a home isn’t for me. Although I was learning about all the steps I needed to take to buy a home, it seemed like too much for a single mom. Plus, I’m so young.
Financial counselors at Primavera gave me a five-year plan to save money for a down payment that would be matched. I was scared, but I was determined. I sacrificed and I saved every month to reach my goal.
Although I had 5 years to save for my down payment, I am proud to say that I reached my savings goal in just 2 years. And three months later, I became a homeowner! For the first time, my daughter and I have our own place. We have stability.
There are so many single mothers out there who are in worse situations than I was.
You can change another life today with your generosity. In fact, there are 30 women waiting to enroll in the "Her Family" program I just completed.
When I think about the counselors who helped me, my aunt and my grandparents who took me and my daughter in when I had nowhere to go, there’s an expression that comes to mind: "Corazon de Servicio." This room today is filled with people who have serving hearts, generous hearts.
I’m a single mother who had a goal of providing stability for my daughter. By the grace of God and with the program at Primavera, my ten-year-old, Leilani and I are now building our home together.
More than a home, this experience changed my life. Now, I know it’s okay to have dreams.
ALEXA RAMIREZ - Former Primavera participant in the "Her Family" financial education and empowerment program / new homeowner