CINCINNATI (October 6, 2022) — When her marriage ended in 2014, Yalonda Render returned to her hometown of Cincinnati after years of living and working in the South.
Despite having experience in the health care field, her certifications to do patient care did not transfer to Ohio, and she had trouble finding work. Worried about supporting herself and her two young children, she made the disheartening decision to apply for public assistance for the first time in her life.
Fast forward a few years. The Woodlawn resident has a good job with benefits. She is in school to become a registered nurse. She is upbeat about her family’s future.
The turnaround is due in large part to her fortitude and tenacity in dealing with life’s challenges. But she is quick to point out that she had help from United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Project Lift and one of the program’s sponsor organizations.
“Project Lift is a lifesaver, a life changer,” she says.
For Yalonda, the turning point came when she connected with a United Way partner agency that coached her on how to achieve her goals and helped her enroll in, and pay for, a 16-week phlebotomy course.
Yalonda completed the phlebotomy training, passed the certification test, and was hired by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as a medical assistant/phlebotomist.
“I was so excited,” she says. “It was my dream job. My mom had worked there for years. I could tell, even as a child, what it did for our household. My mom went from working nursing homes to doing patient care in a hospital, which meant more hours, better pay, better health insurance coverage and life insurance. So, I knew it was going to be great for me, and it has been.”
But even though she was working, she still carried the burden of crushing debt that had accumulated while she was unemployed. She made unsuccessful attempts to enroll in a payment plan that could have eliminated the balance due on her electric bill within two years. She owed nearly $1,700 and her electricity was scheduled for disconnection.
That’s when she was introduced to Project Lift, which leverages public and private dollars to help Hamilton County families remove barriers to securing sustainable income and achieving economic well-being.
Project Lift makes available critical short-term assistance that supports participants’ long-term success. In Yalonda’s case, that meant paying her delinquent utility bill, so her electricity would not be shut off.
She was able to continue on a path toward financial well-being for her family. Indeed, she has received several pay raises. Her kids, now teenagers, are in good schools. “I really do everything to the fullest for my children,” she says.
She looks forward to more successes. She is enrolled in nursing school with a goal of becoming a registered nurse.
“Project Lift has really changed my life, saved my life, and now it’s helping me get to where I need to be and where I’m going,” Yalonda says. “I believe it could change a lot of other people’s lives.”
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.