CINCINNATI (May 5, 2023) — Ayaniah knew education was the key to a better life. Education would make it possible for her to pursue her dream of becoming a clinical medical assistant.
That dream took root when she was a teenager and she and her sisters found themselves providing daily care to their at-home grandmother until she passed away from medical complications. The experience proved to Ayaniah that she had a heart for helping others.
Over time, Ayaniah held onto her dream. But finding the money to pay for the required training to become certified seemed impossible. Ayaniah was caring for her infant son, working as a home health aide and earning just enough to get by.
Still, she resolved to persevere.
"I like to set short-term and long-term goals," she said, "and I accomplish them. I work toward them every day."
She first turned to Cincinnati Parent Empowerment Network, or CPEN, which in 2022 received a grant from United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Black Empowerment Works program. CPEN's services include connecting parents to community resources.
CPEN referred Ayaniah to a church that is a sponsor organization of Project Lift. The United Way program provides a flexible, tailored, family-driven approach to help participants overcome obstacles and achieve financial stability.
Ayaniah had a goal. Project Lift helped her reach it by paying tuition for a clinical medical assistant program.
"I told myself I had to give this all I've got, because somebody believed in me," she said. "I had to prove that they made the right decision to help me. And I also had to do this for my son, so we could be in a better place."
She juggled work and school and child care drop-off and pick-up, as well as cooking, cleaning and shopping and all the other responsibilities of a parent.
"I stayed dedicated and stayed motivated every single day, going to school, until it was over."
One week after Ayaniah completed classes last November, she passed the clinical medical assistant certification exam. The same day, she interviewed with and was hired by one of the area's large health care systems. "God was with me," she said.
In December, she officially began work in a physician's office. Today, her hourly pay is significantly higher than what she earned as a home health aide.
"It's a blessing, because somebody believed in me," Ayaniah said. "I got where I needed to be. And now, I have opportunities to go further."
Indeed, she plans to take advantage of the tuition-free benefit offered by her employer. "My goal," Ayaniah said, "is to continue my education in nursing. I wouldn't have been able to do it if I hadn't received help. I'd probably still be just getting by and have no benefits.
She is grateful for the support she received from United Way's Project Lift. She wants everyone to know: "It's helping dreams come true. It's helping people to accomplish goals. It's helping put families in a better position. It's changing lives."
About United Way
With its dedicated donors, partners, volunteers and staff, United Way of Greater Cincinnati brings new voices and solutions to decades-old challenges so more families in our community thrive.
As the community catalyst, UWGC drives change through investments, influence and filling gaps in services to create lasting change for families today and for future generations.
UWGC does this by focusing on six investment portfolios: Housing First, NextGen Success, Equitable Economic Mobility, Improved Prevention/Stronger Communities, Ready Kids/Resilient Families and Responding to Community Needs.
Learn more about UWGC's work in nine counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and how you can be part of our collective community impact at UWGC.org. #LiveUnited
Project Lift supports families on their journey to financial stability. Project Lift sponsors listen to each families’ challenges, find ways to leverage resources to assist them with short-term needs – rent, food, child care, utilities, transportation, etc. – and provide an ongoing support system as they work to increase their incomes and build long-term economic well-being.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization [Tax ID: 31-0537502]. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.