Raniqua McKnight had to act fast.
She knew it was only a matter of time until her landlord evicted her. There was no way to keep up with the rent, and Raniqua didn’t know where to go. But that wasn’t her only concern.
Raniqua was about to give birth to her second child. Her daughter would be born into the world with no home, and Raniqua couldn’t stand the thought of that. The sheer stress of her housing situation led Raniqua to deliver her daughter three weeks early.
“My in-laws let me recuperate from the birth at their place,” Raniqua said. “But I knew that was temporary. I was trying to figure out a solution as quickly as possible, then I remembered an application I collected earlier that month.”
The application was for a spot in Solutions Academy. Raniqua’s mother was a part of Solutions and encouraged her daughter to give the program a try.
“I was hesitant and I didn’t even know if Solutions would accept me,” Raniqua said. “I didn’t deal with addiction like my mom did, so I wasn’t sure what Solutions could offer me. But honestly, I held on to that application for a month without submitting it out of pride. Now that I had to provide a good home for my two children and I was on the brink of homelessness, I could put my pride aside.”
Raniqua submitted her application to Solutions for Change, and quickly moved her family into Solutions housing. As soon as she arrived, Raniqua realized what Solutions could truly offer her.
“Even though I didn’t have to overcome addiction like my mom, I had my own things to overcome,” Raniqua said. “I needed to overcome codependency. And I discovered that Solutions is the place you go to overcome whatever is keeping you from thriving.”
The daily routine when students first jump into Solutions Academy is rigorous—wake up at 5:30 a.m., do chores, attend work related training from 8:00 a.m. to mid-afternoon, take classes and share dinner with family. Raniqua was ready to take on the busy schedule, but she definitely needed to find childcare.
Usually Raniqua received assistance to help pay for her childcare, but it only applied in the county she used to live in, not in San Diego County. She worried a lack of childcare would keep her from fully participating in Solutions, but then everything seemed to fall into place.
“I got the support I needed to provide my daughters with childcare at the perfect time. And I found a daycare right by Solutions. It was incredible,” Raniqua said. “The way everything came together for me just felt like a sign that I was in the right place. I also found that childcare and support all on my own, which I was proud of.”
At night, after Raniqua’s work related training and the children came home from daycare, Solutions offered all of them ways to learn, grow and heal together. Raniqua’s older daughter attended music therapy classes as a creative outlet and enrichment activity. And Raniqua found life-changing perspective in her codependency and communications classes.
“The codependency class taught me how to recognize unhealthy situations and set boundaries. It amazed me how clear the problems I used to face became once our teacher gave them a name,” Raniqua said. “The communications class then taught me how to express my boundaries and make sure I am understood in any situation.”
Now with the knowledge and vocabulary to end the codependency in her life, Raniqua focused on herself and learning to love herself. She used the skills she developed through Solutions Academy to fight the people-pleasing tendencies of codependency and advocate for her own well-being and stability. Every tool she gained from Solutions went right into becoming a better role model for her daughters.
“After Solutions, I got my own place and went back to school. I paid for school out of pocket and without loans too,” Raniqua said. “I wanted to show my girls that it’s never too late. You can restart your life and build healthier relationships and be stable.”
Raniqua joined the Solutions for Change Empowerment Coach team in August 2020. She guides new students through their very first days at Solutions Academy—completing their paperwork, figuring out logistics, listening to their stories and supporting them as they see if they want to commit to Solutions.
“Commitment is key with Solutions,” Raniqua said. “You gotta be all in. I’m here to keep students encouraged and accountable, but they have to want it. That’s how Solutions worked for me. I let go of pride and opened myself up to change. That’s how it works for other people too.”
We’re proud to have Raniqua on the Solutions team. Her hard work and love for others shines through to all current Solutions Academy students. She recently received an award for going back to school while mothering two young children, and we can’t wait to see her keep thriving.
To learn more about our Empowerment Coaches or Solutions Academy, browse our blog and visit Our Work tab.