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Poverty & Equity Thought Leadership

Ebony’s Pathway to Resilience

When untreated mental health issues led to unemployment for Ebony Williams, she and her children became homeless. Despite the profound effects that this life experience had on all of their lives, with the help of Families First, she and her children were able to get the help they needed to get on the path to resilience, including college scholarships for her two oldest children. Then the pandemic hit, and everything changed. All of her children were back home. From school to employment to mental health and anxiety, it felt like they had hit another setback. 

However, with the team at Families First providing navigation and resilience services and being a constant support system, this family is continuing to overcome the challenges of the past year and stay on its path to sustainable resilience. 

“With our focus on building resilience, we serve the whole family (two+ generations) and work across the community to accelerate the whole family so they can achieve their full potential,” shared DePriest Waddy, CEO of Families First. 

Families First provides families like Ebony’s with access to the needed resources to face life’s challenges by building its resilience and providing a Navigator to help them along the way. Resilience decreases the effects of adversity on a family’s health and development. It enables adults to then demonstrate healthy behaviors to their children – and it can be measured. When a new family comes to Families First, we begin with a Resiliency Assessment to get to the heart of their needs. We then create a personalized plan to connect them with the programs and essential community services that can help. 

“Our Navigator model is an exciting approach to working with families who have complex challenges,” says Families First Chief Program Officer, Paula Moody. “The families in our programs come in with a combination of issues that have a domino effect on their lives. We help them find their way back to where they are stable and can thrive.”

Our Navigators work with families every step of the way – from food and housing assistance to counseling, coaching and parenting to career planning and goal achievement – to help get them back on track and develop self-sufficiency skills they can use throughout their lives. Navigators engage, listen and connect the families to our programs and other community resources that meet their needs. They also track and measure progress and provide aftercare following program completion.

“When I got with Families First, it was epic. They opened so many doors for me, they allowed me to have a home, they allowed me to have my own independence. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I am thankful. I am just thankful.”

Williams continued to expound upon the importance of building resilience and how it continues to be an integral part of her, and her family’s lives. 

“Setbacks can be difficult for a person, especially when you’re achieving so many different things. But you just have to be resilient, keep your head up, and keep moving forward.”  


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