Walking with participants as they navigate the complexities that brought them to Jubilee often inspires optimism. Mary Jane came to Jubilee after her well-planned retirement was derailed by a family medical emergency that drained all her financial resources, and had her as the designated caregiver, resulting in her losing her job and housing. Coming into Jubilee, she had a plan to regain her savings and an unfailing drive and determination to re-focus her plans. Mary Jane allowed herself to settle and readjust to no longer being transitory and made it her priority to access Jubilee’s training opportunities. With a great sense of independence, she implemented her action steps efficiently, and within eighteen months of entering Jubilee, Mary Jane had a job that suited her needs and had moved into a market rate apartment with a beautiful view. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is get out of their way.
There is always a duality in every interaction and relationship. Abby, who was inspired by Gwen, her high school chemistry teacher to make a pivotal life change, years later, walks Mary Jane through part of her journey to reclaim her life, knowing that every interaction is an opportunity to learn, to be part of a community that empowers, and to be a continued thread of hope.
In weaving these stories together, one of the questions posed to our story tellers was, who are the women who have inspired you? Each response was accompanied with a short pause, followed by a smile. Gwen, Abby’s previously mentioned high school chemistry teacher was grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the women who have been influential in her life. Though both Gwen’s parents and grandparents were teachers, her initial career path did not include teaching chemistry to high school students. However, after working for several years for a chemical company in the City of Industry doing sales and quality control, Gwen discovered that sales were not a strength or a passion. So, she quit her job with the chemical company and became a full-time day-care provider for four infants (including her son) and headed to night school to get her teaching credential. Within one year, she had completed the basics and Los Angeles Unified Schools granted emergency teaching certificates to physical science instructors, who were in very short supply.