Susan A. from Women’s Empowerment
A brave voice for previously homeless women

Success Story

There are some fundamental success indicators we look for in financial stability work. On the quantitative side, we want to know if our participants are increasing their income, savings and credit scores, and decreasing their debt and use of predatory financial services. Qualitatively, we work with them to improve their sense of capability and confidence when it comes to their relationship with money.

We measure all of these things, and we file our reports, and you can see our collective success on paper. But out in the world, we love when spontaneous things happen that fall outside the usual evaluative box and exceed our expectations.

One such thing occurred on Feb. 5 at our Family Assets Count press conference, where we released data about liquid asset poverty in the California Capital Region. (Click here for a great explanatory article from The Sacramento Observer.)

We invited some of our funded partners who do financial stability work to bring some of their successful program participants to the event, anticipating that some media representatives might want to interview them after the conference.

After all the speakers were done, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson invited the press to ask questions. Cynthia Hubert from the Bee asked one question, and then things fell silent. “Going once, going twice…” the Mayor offered a last bit of space for someone else to chime in.

Susan, a participant at Women’s Empowerment, raised her hand. “I’m not a reporter, and I don’t have a question,” she began.

All the news cameras swung around to focus on her. Unfazed, she spoke passionately about how glad she is that people are talking about how hard it is for so many people to get by, and about how much help she’s gotten from Women’s Empowerment.

Women’s Empowerment educates and empowers women, who are homeless, with the skills and confidence necessary to secure a job, create a healthy lifestyle, and regain a home for themselves and their children.

When she was done speaking, Mayor Johnson invited her to the podium, gave her a hug, and spoke about how she so eloquently humanized the sobering numbers that were the subject of the day. It was an emotional moment for all present, something that drove the message home in a way that all the advance event planning could not have – it is great what we are doing, and great that we’re talking about it, but clearly we need to do more.

Speaking truth to power isn’t something you can easily measure on a pre- and post-survey, but we must all look for opportunities to make it happen in our work. It informs those who are in a position to make a difference for many more people, and as Susan has confirmed, it is an unforgettably positive experience for those who put their truth out there for all to see.

We thank Susan for sharing her strength and bravery in a way that will help us all to help more individuals and families in our region to become financially stable.