Jennifer Jackson was born in California. During her childhood, she lived in many different places with her family and in foster homes. She moved between California and Washington a couple of times with her family members. In her late teenage years, she decided to move in with her mother in Seattle. While she lived there, she was in a relationship and doing her best to complete high school. Jennifer became pregnant during her last couple of years of high school. She did not let this slow her down from graduating. Jennifer graduated from high school and was ready to take on her adult life. She pursued a medical education and by the time she was 20, she had a job as a medical assistant, a home, and two children.

Photo of a woman in front of a wood wall, wearing a black face mask.

Jennifer was always on the go. She had herself and two children that she had to provide for as a single parent. She didn’t have much time to cope with her childhood or the struggles she had daily, this led her to start drinking excessively. Jennifer struggled with substance abuse for a few years while taking care of her family and working. At the age of 22, she was arrested and sentenced to 9 months in prison. Jennifer spent her time in prison reflecting on what she needed to do to get herself back on track and live a healthy life. When Jennifer got out, she was sober and went back to providing for her children. She would maintain her sobriety for a while and was starting to feel stable again. She made a point always to have enough money to support herself and her children, but keeping a steady job was difficult. She wasn’t able to stay in one job for long before she was off to the next one. Jennifer felt that this kept a cycle of chaos in her life present. After a few years, her sense of security would be tested again. Jennifer’s mother passed away and her father followed years later. This was crushing for Jennifer and her children. Her mother was one of the only support systems in her life. When her father died it felt like a door closed to finding out about her father’s side of the family. This sent Jennifer into depression. She didn’t know how to cope with the loss of her parents. Soon Jennifer turned to drinking. Although she did her best to continue to support her family Jennifer’s addiction got a hold of her. During this time, she received two DUIs. After the second DUI, she did her best to manage her drinking on her own and slowed down. She met her now ex-husband during this time and started a very close relationship with him. Their relationship progressed quickly and she got married to him and had her third child. They both enabled each other’s addictions and their relationship began to deteriorate. Jennifer decided to divorce him after a struggle with sobriety and domestic violence. The divorce was challenging, but like always, she didn’t give up and found a way out. She put her mental health first and pursued therapy. Jennifer felt like she was ready to change her life and was truly ready to start the process of healing. She knew the process always has its ups and downs but she was committed. She was handling her addictions well and became sober again. Jennifer also found a job where she felt that she was needed and was able to stay. She reached out to her father’s side of the family and was accepted with open arms.

Jennifer would stay clean and working for a number of years. She was still working on finding good coping mechanisms. Being a single mother and provider of three children often left her feeling like she didn’t have time to sit down and add new tools to her toolbox. But she had made progress in therapy and started to grow. She decided to find out more about her father’s side of the family. Jennifer felt a sense of belonging in her family and strength within herself. She went through a rough few months when Jennifer had a string of family members pass away within the year. Her job also went through some large organizational changes within its leadership. Losing many influential people in her life brought the feeling of chaos back to Jennifer. She began to fall into drinking and looking for support from people who weren’t on a good path. Jennifer realized that she had to do something, but something felt different this time. She knew she had to change drastically so this cycle wouldn’t continue. She took a break from her job, got sober, and housed herself in a shelter. Very soon after she was ready to get back to work and save up for a place when an employee at the shelter approached her. She asked Jennifer, “Why don’t you take a bit of a break? We have the space for you and you deserve time to process.” This changed everything for Jennifer. Ever since she was young, she felt she had not had a break. She grew up always ready to go. “I’ve felt like I had to go-go-go all my life. Now I’ve been given a chance to heal and slow down.” Jennifer said. She was referred to the HopeWorks Job Training Program and here she flourished. “When you came in you were a bit scattered and confused. But as soon as you got into this structured environment, you blossomed. You are such a wonderful person and you’ve definitely made your mark here.” Janee, Jennifer’s Training Program Navigator said at her graduation. Jennifer moved through the program with a bright, positive, and kind attitude. She feels like she has been able to make real and true connections here at HopeWorks. “The comradery and relationships you make here are unforgettable. People here know that where you come from is not who you are. It’s about where you are going.” Jennifer said while reflecting on her experience at HopeWorks. Her passions and goals have expanded and presented themselves to her since she’s been here. Jennifer feels that she has many doors now open to her but most of all she wants to be an advocate for people who are trying to gain housing. She understands the hoops that people have to go through and Jennifer wants to find a way to help in the near future. The people who helped her along the way have noticed this about her. “You grab every opportunity that comes close to you, and you run with it with both hands. It is so amazing.” Jesse, Jennifer’s teacher in the program said about her growth.

Jennifer participated in her graduation with her fellow trainees who graduated the same day. Jennifer left the graduation glowing and with a new kind of fire within her. Through all her hard work, she is ready to take on the steps of her life. We would like to congratulate Jennifer on gaining full-time employment after leaving our program.