Single Mom Makes Strides With Community Action Duluth

By KBJR News 1

April 12, 2012 Updated Apr 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM CDT

CLOQUET, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - The Financial Opportunity Center housed at Community Action Duluth is getting another $175,000 to help families take steps to get out of poverty.

Last year, 54 families in the program saw their net worth increase, and one single mom hoping to use her newfound knowledge to give back.

It was from a shelter Cherkesha Johnson made one of the most important calls in her life to seek support through Community Action Duluth.

"My life was horrible. It was horrible... I was really isolated," said Johnson.

Johnson was struggling, working part-time as a telemarketer, and had no high school diploma.

"I come from a family that'd never been to college."

Today, she walks among other students at Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College full-time, with a part-time job through the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program.

"I'm confident that I'm going to go on to my four-year degree and my master's. Here I come."

Her 10-year-old daughter is proud.

"I am happy cause she's making our lives better," said Laneasha Williams.

In the Financial Opportunity Center, Johnson's learned about financial management, savings and stocks.

"Now that's all my focus is, to build assets, to make establishment for my child and give back is the on thing I instill in my daughter is giving back."

Johnson is working toward a Human Services Degree to help others.

"I look forward to giving back and I have the courage to step out there and speak now," said Johnson.

She's teaching her daughter by example.

"That poverty stops here," said Johnson.

"Go to school. Go to work," said Williams.

Johnson says that's how bigger things will come.

"If she can afford it or when I get older, I want to get our own house," said Williams.

Johnson still meets regularly with a financial coach and is working toward owning a car as well as a home.

The Duluth Financial Opportunity Center has served more than 200 families since it began last year through Duluth LISC funding.

Duluth LISC awarded a second grant of $175,000 this year to continue its work.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike