In Mizetta’s words, she “had it all.” She was living in Texas with her aunt, working and taking general studies courses at a local college. She loved her friends, her school and her easy life.
But then a devastating family tragedy occurred and she felt she needed to be closer to her immediate family. She moved north to Nebraska where she soon found that more than just 800 miles separated her from her old carefree life.
“When I got back to Omaha, my life was very different than it had been in Texas,” said Mizetta. “My mom just wasn’t stable, and I don’t have a really close relationship with my dad.”
Mizetta ended up living with several different family members while she tried to find direction. She didn’t have a job, a phone or any money. She felt as her life was a game of chess, always trying to stay one step ahead of the next obstacle.
Living such a chaotic lifestyle was especially upsetting to Mizetta because she knew what it was like to be free of worries. “I was very depressed because I had come from a place where I was comfortable. I didn’t have to worry about any bills, transportation or housing before.”
In despair and tired of moving and being broke, Mizetta found a saving grace when her aunt, a former Jacobs’ Place resident, told her about the transitional living program at Omaha Home for Boys.
Mizetta then made one more move, perhaps the most life changing move yet. She moved to
Jacobs’ Place in July 2015.
While at Jacobs’ Place, Mizetta’s determination and upbeat attitude helped her quickly progress through the levels of the program. With the guidance of Jacobs’ Place staff, she gained full-time employment, mastered how to budget her money, learned how to maintain an apartment, and set goals for her future.
Just a few months later, Mizetta felt empowered and was ready to move on from Jacobs’ Place, but one major barrier stood in her way: transportation. Mizetta was working the swing shift, which meant the public transportation that she took to work wasn’t available when her shift ended.
That’s when Mizetta was approached about entering Jacobs’ Place new My First Place program. My First Place was created when staff saw a need for a continuation of services for young men and women who had successfully completed the Jacobs’ Place program but still faced barriers to living completely on their own.
Youth in the My First Place program live in one of the single occupancy apartments on the Jacobs’ Place campus. They must have successfully graduated from the Jacobs’ Place program and must have employment that will sustain them. They are required to pay full rent and utilities, but are free from some of the other rules and regulations of Jacobs’ Place, such as following curfew and regularly checking in with staff.
“Youth in the My First Place program are basically living on their own as they would in their own apartment off campus,” said Bailey Perry, Transitional Living Manager, “but the safety and support of the Jacobs’ Place campus and staff are still available to them. The feedback from youth in the My First Place program has been very positive.”
Mizetta found the My First Place program to be especially helpful when she needed a ride home from work in the early morning hours. She paid $15 every two weeks for Jacobs’ Place staff to pick her up from work. The program also allowed her to save up enough money to purchase her own car.
This summer, Mizetta celebrated her two-year anniversary at her job and took the first step toward fulfilling her dream of becoming an accountant by applying for college. She is no longer living at Jacobs’ Place, but rather in her own apartment with no plans to move any time soon.
“I love my apartment. I love it!” exclaimed Mizetta with a beaming smile. “I was blessed to be at Jacobs’ Place because I don’t know where I would be or what I would be doing now if I wasn’t there. Now I’m happy. I like being on my own. It’s a great feeling.”
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