Sonya Moreno has big dreams. And she knows exactly how to reach them.
In the next year, Sonya plans to move to Texas, join the Army Reserve, become a medic and eventually reach her goal of being a registered nurse. Her life is mapped out. And she’s ready to chase her goals so she and her daughter can have an even better life.
But Sonya’s current clarity and confidence was hard earned. For most of her life, instability and anxiety was the norm. Sonya fought her way into a good life for her and her child, and she isn’t going to stop fighting now.
Growing up, Sonya’s family moved almost every year. She knew she couldn’t hold on to a sense of home, because her family would no doubt pack up and leave as soon as they got settled.
“I went to 12 schools before I graduated high school,” Sonya said. “Nothing was ever stable, so now even in the hard times I have to remember that I need to give my daughter the stability I didn’t have.”
The pulls of The Churn surrounded Sonya every day of her childhood. Her father suffered from addiction. Her mother fell into cycles of codependency. Sonya saw this and knew she didn’t want to have the same life, but she didn’t know how to escape it.
“Until Solutions, no one ever explained to me what codependency was or how poverty and homelessness are cycles,” Sonya said. “I recognized that bad things were happening, but I didn’t yet have the tools to handle them, and my relationship with my family suffered.”
After high school graduation, Sonya knew she wanted to become a nurse, so she started working in medical centers that could help her through nursing school. She loved her jobs and was excited to finally forge her own path in life.
Misfortune, however, struck without warning. A sudden injury hindered Sonya’s ability to participate in work and school. She knew that nursing school requires students to be able to lift at least 50 pounds. She could barely lift five.
Her employment was terminated and she lost her spot in nursing school. She filed for workers’ compensation. And she couldn’t find anyone in the medical field to hire her. Sonya went from her dream career path to nothing in a matter of weeks and she was completely lost.
“I was honestly depressed,” Sonya said. “I loved my work. It was my path to make a great life for myself. But this situation showed me how fragile my safety net was. No one ever showed me how to handle this.”
By the time she lost her job, school and eventually housing, Sonya was pregnant with her daughter. She chose to live on the street to stay away from her family.
“That was a low point,” Sonya said. “I was essentially choosing to be homeless. That’s when I started getting theft and possession charges on my record too.”
Sonya soon would have a child to care for, however. She couldn’t stay on the streets. Something had to change—for Sonya’s daughter’s sake.
For the next several years, Sonya jumped from program to program, slowly but surely building the skills she needed to reestablish her life. The first program she attended got her criminal charges expunged. She spent seven months inpatient at another program. And eventually, a case manager referred her to Solutions for Change.
“I came to Solutions because I knew they could give me stable housing,” Sonya said. “But it turned out to be so much more than just housing. They taught me more, trusted me more and supported me more than I could’ve imagined.”
Sonya participated in Solutions Academy—strengthening her skills in workforce training, learning about parenting and The Churn in empowering classes and developing friendships across the program. The Solutions Academy classes gave Sonya the vocabulary and tools to recognize and describe signs of The Churn in her life for the first time.
“Everything made more sense,” Sonya said. “Solutions taught me to reframe my thinking and navigate the difficult relational parts of The Churn. With the tools to approach my family and my struggles in a healthy way, I could grow.”
Now, Solutions is a helpful, driving force in every part of Sonya’s life. She and her daughter live in an apartment on Solutions property surrounded by fellow Overcomers. And those Overcomers have become Sonya’s support system and dear friends.
“I’ve never trusted anyone to watch my daughter, but I trust my friends at Solutions to care for her when I’m working,” Sonya said. “I am still amazed by how much Solutions committed to me. They made sure I could work to get back my nursing school eligibility while balancing Solutions Academy and parenting my daughter.”
The Morenos are settled happily in their Solutions community, while keeping a bright eye on the future. Sonya is back on her feet after a rough patch that nearly swept her career out from under her. She’s using the skills she gained from Solutions to rebuild her relationship with her family, and she’s grateful to have her own home to maintain boundaries when needed.
All that’s left to do is jump into the next phase of her life and chase the goals she’s had for so long. Sonya is more than ready.