The Blue Sweater

Hello!

I am so excited and just honored that sharing my story of the blue sweater is really touching peoples hearts! I know in your line of work sometimes appreciation is not always shown as it could be.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30s, mature & responsible that I could really appreciate all that you guys had done for me. Community action in Albion and the community center in Holley helped me through more times than I can remember. From Christmas gifts for my children, security deposit’s for a place to stay, to food when needed and even gas for my car to get to work. Honestly community action gave me hope when I had none many times. So many answered prayers from this organization and the volunteers.

So yes you may absolutely share the story with whomever you’d like however you’d would like. Sometimes people do need a reminder that they’re doing a good job and that what they’re doing really does touch people more than what may be shown.

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. It really means a lot to me that this story is making an impact on those who made one on me.

Ashley

The blue sweater.

This isn’t just any blue sweater you see, it’s been passed down to all the girls for the last twelve years.

When my sweet Riley was about three years old I picked up this blue sweater from a local charity center that helped people in need. At the time I was not in a comfortable place in life and this establishment helped me quite often.
I remember thinking what a lucky find as I pulled the blue sweater out of a box of clothes left out for those in need. At the time I had no idea how truly valuable this blue sweater would end up to be.

Riley outgrew the blue sweater after about two years. The sweater was still in great condition, through all the play dates, spilled juice, trips and tumbles the blue sweater remained resilient. It was only right to pass the sweater down to the next lady in line my niece Haidynn. She too has many great many memories & pictures in the blue sweater.
A little over three years had passed when the blue sweater found its way in a bag of hand me downs from my niece back to my house for my younger girls Jaidynn & Jetta.

Jaidynn and Jetta each took their turns in the blue sweater over the next five years. Many pre school and kindergarten pictures of theirs they are wearing the loyal blue sweater. Many walks to the park, warming up at big sis’ cheer events, always the extra layer for the cubby at school on those chilly days. This blue sweater has become a priceless most valuable piece of time. A walking memory.

Now my sweet grandbaby has been presented the blue sweater.

To some, maybe most, they will not understand my connection to this blue sweater. For me however this blue sweater is so much more than a sweater. It represents tradition, value and most importantly growth. I look back now on the day I was rummaging through that box at that community center and I thank god, I thank the universe and all the powers you can’t see. Most importantly though I thank myself.

I never gave up just like the blue sweater.

Now I donate whenever I can im always trying to give back for all the times my prayers were answered. You really never know the impact something so little can leave on a person or even a whole family.

So to whomever donated the little blue sweater to the Holley community center twelve years ago, thank you. Thank you so much! ♥️

Success!

Many of you may know me as the fiscal assistant here at Community Action.  I have held this position since September of 2021; however, my affiliation with the organization began well before then. While I have lived in Albion since 2005, it was not until the autumn of 2019 that I discovered Community Action and the services offered here.  At the time, I had no idea the impact this agency would have on my life.

Having grown up in foster care and possessing little more than a GED, I considered myself lucky to land a job in a banking call center when I was 22.  As the years progressed, so did my knowledge; I ultimately went on to become a subject matter expert in the field of residential foreclosure. During the 5 years that followed the subprime housing crisis, I held a position as a single point of contact advocating for retail borrowers facing default.  It was a good job by any standard and as it turned out, I was really good at it.  Financial success came early for me; however, I was ill prepared for the ebb and flows of life; much less the mortgage lending industry.  When the company I worked for eliminated my position and relocated out of state, I found myself a single mother without a job, college degree or backup plan.  With my background in foreclosure I was able to find a new position processing HUD insurance claims, but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills.  Years of juggling disconnection notices and being unable to support my daughter eventually caught up with me, and I was left exhausted, hopeless and depressed.  I wanted desperately to do something that made a difference, to matter; but I just couldn’t find the energy to forge a path forward.   A family tragedy in January of 2019 was the catalyst for change that I needed, and just a few days later I enrolled full time at GCC.  I was once again laid off from my job that following summer, but this time I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the NYS 599 Training Program, which allowed me to continue collecting unemployment benefits until I finished my degree.  Finances were tight, but I was confident that with careful planning I could make it through… until once again, life happened.  It was a $500 car repair that left me without the funds to pay my rent that brought me to Community Action’s door; and in retrospect; to the next chapter of my life.

I’ll admit that asking for help was both a humbling and daunting task; but despite my trepidation, I knew I had no other choice.   My initial meeting with our case manager alleviated many of my fears.  I found myself grateful for her compassion and lack of judgement, and I was comforted knowing that she too had returned to school during middle age to study social work.   That feeling of kinship brought me back to Community Action in January of 2020 when it was time to complete the internship requirements of my degree.  Thanks to a serendipitous twist of fate, I was offered a temporary position working the ESL Housing stability project when my internship was over, and I was grateful to be given the opportunity; hoping the experience would help build my resume.  The transition to employee was an easy one and I found that the altruism and kindness I had experienced as an intern was extended equally amongst employees.  For the first time in my professional career I felt that my voice was heard; that my presence mattered, and resulting contentment has had a ripple effect felt in all corners of my life.  I knew I had found the place where I belong one day last summer when my little asked me if I was going to stay with Community Action.  When I inquired as to why she had asked, she looked me and said “I don’t know, Mom.  You just seem so happy.”

It’s been over a year since I was first offered that position, and since then I have been brought on full time as the A/P clerk and reporting assistant.  In my new role I have been offered several opportunities to grow and expand on my talents, such as attending grant writing workshops, representing the agency at job fairs and in partnership with the United Way as a digital literacy mentor.  In addition, I am currently training to become the agency social media and press communications contact. Some days I wake up and can’t believe people believe this much in me, and I’m more grateful for the chances I’m given than I can explain.  Three years ago, I thought the days of going to a job I liked were behind me.  Looking back , I suppose one could say that was true; because now when I wake up in the morning, I get to go to one that I love.

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