Single mom from Newsoms shares story of success

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NEWSOMS—Just last year, Selena Everette got her first pair of new sneakers in five years — a birthday gift from her daughter.

A single mother of two, she learned to do without for a long time, but a will to change her life coupled with help from a government program has made a difference for the 41-year-old Newsoms woman.

Everette in May graduated magna cum laude from the registered nursing program at Paul D. Camp Community College and is a case manager for a home health care agency. She’s also working on buying a home.

Everette attributes part of her success to the Family Self-Sufficiency program.

“The best thing I got out of the program is being really excited that there was a program that was not just like social services, where you get your rent paid,” Everette said. “The main thing that excited me was it helped you transition, clean up your credit, negotiate with banks for home ownership.”

Family Self-Sufficiency is overseen by a public housing agency to promote economic self-sufficiency among families, said LaVerne Copeland, a case manager with Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

“The objective of the program is to assist these families in obtaining employment that will allow them to become self-sufficient,” Copeland said. “That is not dependent on welfare assistance.”

The program is open to Housing Choice Voucher Program and Public Housing residents. Families entering the program work with a case manager to develop goals that will lead to self-sufficiency over a five-year period, she said.

These goals may include education, specialized training, job readiness and job placement activities and career advancement objectives. When the family meets its goals and completes the contract, the family becomes eligible to receive funds deposited in an escrow account on its behalf through the program. The amount is based on increases in the family’s income during the term of the contract.

Just eight years ago, Everette and her daughters, Tracina and Alexis — now 21 and 20 — were living in a Boykins mobile home park. The government subsidized their rent.

Everette got some financial help from the girls’ father and earned $9 an hour working as a certified nurse aide at Southampton Memorial Hospital.

“The financial situation was quite bleak,” she said. “I was a single mom. We never had extra money. We had never been on a real vacation. We may have run off to a carnival. If so, there was never anything extra.”

Everette became a licensed practical nurse after attending school at Southampton Memorial Hospital. She remained at SMH, where her pay increased.

“My income went up significantly at that point, and I wasn’t receiving assistance from social services,” Everette said. “I was making too much to qualify, so it wasn’t much different.”

She got involved with the Family Self-Sufficiency program in 2007, when she began setting goals, including home ownership.

“They help you meet your goals,” Everette said.

A portion of her rent money as her pay increased went into an escrow account.

“When they meet their goals, that’s when they receive the money,” Copeland said. “She (Everette) was a good example of what this program can do for you. You have to put something into it. She met her goals.”

Everette’s next step is homeownership.

“I want to live in Southampton County,” she said.