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How One Treasure Valley Woman Escaped the Health-Poverty Trap

The United Way of Treasure Valley fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. We know that these things are inextricably tied together; you can’t have one without having the other two. 
 
“Poor health also contributes to reduced income, creating a negative feedback loop sometimes referred to as the health-poverty trap. Poverty has long been recognized as a contributor to death and disease, but several recent trends have generated an increased focus on the link between income and health.” (source
 
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Sheena.
 
Sheena had a challenging upbringing. In spite of her challenges, she had never used public assistance or experienced a homeless shelter. Until a couple of years ago, that is. Sheena and her two young children had been staying at a local shelter, where they had just fled an abusive home. The shelter referred Sheena to an educational program whose goal was to empower adults with barriers to employment through food service skills training and job placement assistance.
 
The training she received in the program was more than developing skills; it allowed her to rediscover her self-worth and confidence. Despite her struggles and living situation, Sheena maintained a very positive attitude. She remained focused on creating a new life of safety and peace for herself and children. At the beginning of her training, Sheena set a goal to obtain a job in foodservice with a local hospital. Because of her hard work and tenacity, upon graduation, she obtained a full-time job at a local hospital, just like she had set out to do. The job offered her a living wage and full benefits. Sheena has been in her new job since mid-January of 2018 and is thriving! 
 
Her manager says, “Sheena is doing great! She is building her confidence and learning with a smile on every day. She has a big mountain to climb and we are committed to climbing it with her.” 
 
Shortly after being hired on at the hospital, we learned that Sheena and her children were moving out of the shelter and into a home of their own. The path to freedom and self-sufficiency was full of obstacles, but Sheena remained committed to breaking the cycle of abuse and poverty for herself and her children.
 
At United Way, we know Sheena’s story mirrors many, many more. There are women and children (and men!) just like this scattered throughout the Treasure Valley, and United Way is committed to lifting them up and out of poverty through the programs we have the opportunity to fund. But we can’t fund them without your support! Please make a gift to United Way today to continue to help families just like Sheena’s.