When former Richfield, Minn., resident Kristie Garcia, 22, discovered she and her son could have a better life, she didn’t give the eight-hour weekly round trip to Fargo a second thought. Garcia, one of the newest residents of Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead, participated in a special 12-week Empowerment class designed for single mothers who are motivated to lift themselves from poverty.
“When I first started Empowerment, I was still going through a lot of emotions and anger about my son’s dad, who has not made an effort to be in Rey’s life,” Garcia said of her 14-month-old son. “The class helped me have the right mentality and gain support from other women who were dealing with similar challenges. The drive was not as important to me as beginning a new journey that would be better for my son and me.”
The Empowerment class is a first in a series of steps for single mothers enrolled in Jeremiah Program. Focused on two generations at a time, the comprehensive program prepares determined single mothers to excel in the workforce, readies their children to succeed in school, and reduces generational dependence on public assistance. The Fargo-Moorhead campus, which opened in January 2018, is the fifth Jeremiah Program location to develop. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn, the organization also has programs in St. Paul, Minn; Austin, Texas, and Boston, Mass., Rochester, Minn and Brownsville, NY.
The Fargo-Moorhead campus features 20 furnished apartments designed to support single mothers, who are required to work part-time or volunteer, attend college full time, and work toward a career-track education while participating Jeremiah Program’s weekly coaching and life skills classes. Community spaces also available to campus participants include a community/multipurpose room, library, interior gymnasium and outdoor playground. The ground floor features a licensed early Child Development Center that can serve up to 52 children ages six weeks until starting kindergarten.
Garcia, who learned about the program from another Jeremiah Program participant at the Minneapolis/St. Paul campus, applied at the Fargo-Moorhead campus because earning a bachelor’s degree for radiological sciences is far less expensive in North Dakota. She is working toward a career as a diagnostic sonographer and would like to specialize in obstetrics.
After completing the mandatory 12-week empowerment course, Garcia moved into a fully-furnished apartment at Jeremiah Program’s Fargo-Moorhead campus and found part-time work at the M-State bookstore while her son Rey attends the on-site child development center at the Fargo-Moorhead campus.
“I honestly don’t know where I would be without this program and the support of donors and agencies who helped build it,” Garcia said. “I feel like I have grown so much as a person already and I am so happy to be in a program that has put my son and me on a better path. I feel like I finally have a fresh start and a place to call home.”