Lasting Stability: An Alumni Story

Shelby became a part of the Saranam family over 10 years ago. The lessons she learned have continued to change her life and her community.

Her life before Saranam, Shelby says, was on a rough path. She was recovering from a drug addiction, had just left a volatile relationship, and recently completed a cross-country move. On top of everything, she was eight months pregnant. Alone and unsure of how to make her way on her own, she knew applying to Saranam was her path forward. She was accepted and moved in with her two-month old baby.

She was surprised at how fully her needs were taken care of at Saranam.

Though she had always tried to be independent, having furnishings, supplies and clothing took a weight off and allowed her to focus on the future.

With Saranam’s help she created a balanced routine and designed a new educational plan that excited her. She had previously pursued culinary arts but was terribly discouraged to find that her credits didn’t transfer. Instead, she found her passion at the intersection of culinary culture and anthropology.

More than anything, she says, she learned to be self-sufficient.

“I needed to learn to grow on my own-and that’s what Saranam taught me. I still have those fundamentals to this day and appreciate them so much more now as a single mother. I don’t need anyone to help me. I am capable.”

Those lessons have enabled her to offer her daughter, now 10, a head-start in life. Since they successfully exited the program her daughter has been able to attend quality schools, has always known a stable home, and has grown up with a mother rich in confidence and resilience.

“I feel so much more empowered now. I can take life by the horns.”

Shelby now works in a thriving industry in Arizona, where she has sky-rocketed up the career ladder to become the purchasing manager for her company. Having a secure, skilled job has kept her stable throughout the pandemic and given her confidence that she can weather anything that comes next.

She still carries her favorite part of the program- the warm, encouraging support of the community- with her.

From the regular baby pow-wows to shoulders to cry on through the roughest of days, the program changed her view of the world. That change of perspective still guides how she builds her own community to this day.

“I felt nurtured, so now I can do that for others. I try to give out to the community as much as I can as a peer counselor and through our business. That started at Saranam.”

The past decade has not faded the memories of the laughter, healing and triumph she had at Saranam. She hopes her story can inspire other families to find the same.

“You can do anything you really want to. Today does not define anything. Tomorrow is always new.”

Shelby is proof that the investments we make in families are a down-payment on a thriving future. After 17 years of service, the long-term impact of our program continues to build generational, community change.