The Power of Perseverance
Yelena was featured in our Summer | Fall Newsletter
If there’s one way to describe Yelena, it’s determined. She taught herself English and homeschooled her kids for a few years, while teaching them Ukrainian simultaneously. Despite the hardships she faced moving to Seattle from Ukraine, she never gave up in her path to providing her three children, Daniel, Darina, and David, with the best possible life.
It was never an option to give up or stop trying, so she kept going, and pushed through the long days and nights of studying, working, and taking care of a full household. While taking a prerequisite course in communication, she began to learn about relationships and how to better them through communication, which was her goal with her husband of 12 years. It wasn’t until she began to learn about domestic violence in this class that she realized that her husband was abusive and she shouldn’t be treated the way she was. Yelena ended her relationship with her husband after being told for so long that she wasn’t good enough, and feeling stuck and unable to do anything.
She was then on her own to take care of her three young children. Having been a stay at home mother until now, Yelena was determined to finish her education and get a degree at Lake Washington Institute of Technology.
“Failing wasn’t an option,” she said. This past winter quarter, she completed her associate’s degree and was recently hired by Infinity Rehab at Bethany at Silverlake, where she has begun her career as a Physical Therapy Assistant. Yelena describes the last four years as life-changing. She explains that she doesn’t know what she would have done without Seattle Milk Fund’s support.
“I knew that my kids would be in child care and safe, and that was the most important thing for me. I was going to school for them, but I couldn’t just abandon them at home if they weren’t being taken care of.”
The additional support from Seattle Milk Fund was as meaningful to Yelena as the Child Care Grants. Receiving tickets to the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Children’s Museum was a cost she otherwise couldn’t afford and it meant the world to her.
She also thanks her Family Support Advocate, Linda. “To have someone call for even five minutes to check in on how school was going and ask about the kids was so meaningful,” she said.
The most memorable moment for her was around Christmas time when Linda and her husband showed up with gifts for their family. Her kids couldn’t believe that it was all for them and it made that holiday season so special for them, especially because they were so far from the rest of their family, who live in Ukraine.
Yelena is now hopeful and excited about starting work. She recognizes the growth that has happened for her over the past few years and is so appreciative of her education and the instructors who went beyond basic education and helped her get to where she is now.
They provided her with life skills, such as interview advice and how to be professional, which led her to her recent job. She has always pushed forward to be the best role model for her kids, despite how hard it was to find enough time in the day to study after going to school and working.
When talking about this, she said, “It wasn’t always easy, but the kids helped out with cooking and cleaning and it became something we could do together.” If there is one thing she wants others to take away from her story, it’s that if she can do it, they can do it:
“I really want women to step forward and make the right choice in their life. We are all smart and the only thing in your way is your will.”
Yelena doesn’t want people to feel sorry for themselves, or be afraid of failure, because doing something is better than not trying. She is so thankful for Seattle Milk Fund and looks forward to giving back to help others who are in situations similar to hers. Once Yelena was accepted into Seattle Milk Fund’s program, Linda became her Family Support Advocate until she graduated. Every student at Seattle Milk Fund is connected with a Family Support Advocate to provide additional help and resources to ensure they are going to be successful.
Thank you to Amy Rickel, our indispensable intern, for authoring Yelena’s success story. Amy graduated in June with a B.S. in Communication from UW.
Thank you to Renee Banks for volunteering as our family photographer.