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May 19, 2011

Opportunity, Inc. is Making a Difference

by PBUnitedWay
Opportunity, Inc.

Opportunity, Inc., a Town of Palm Beach United Way member agency for more than six decades (and a recent recipient of a Five-Star-Plus rating from Quality Counts), offers affordable, quality preschool childcare, educational programming and parent support to low-income families, single parent families and families in crisis. But more than that – Opportunity, Inc. provides families in need with hope when all seems lost.  Kari, a single mother who has faced many hardships, shares in her own words how Opportunity, Inc. assisted her.

“My name is Kari. My life may not look so different from everyone else’s right now; single parent, bad economy, etc. But then again, it may be very different. Unfortunately, I had a lot of tough times growing up, like so many others. But, I didn’t want to live a rough life or expose my children to it. I chose a different path. I worked full-time, went to school, became a teacher, and eventually had my own business. I was able to pay my bills, and for that alone, I was happy.

I had a sister with a severe drug problem. She gave birth to a premature little girl who was addicted to drugs at birth. DCF stepped in and asked me to assist. I gladly did. This poor little baby had a rough road in front of her. Withdrawals and subsequent health issues were exhausting for her and very sad for my older daughters and me. We fell in love with this little girl and, when her birth mother couldn’t get through her addiction, we adopted her.

Then a sort of snowball effect hit us. I couldn’t operate my business due to a very poor economy. I had to go to a regular 9 to 5 job and, thankfully, I found one. Unfortunately, the baby continued to have health problems and required a lot of medical attention. I could not be at work and with her at the same time. Meanwhile, my sister had another child. DCF stepped in and removed this child too. This time I couldn’t take her right away. My bills were severely delinquent. I lost everything and now had a sick baby and two teenagers to care for. As time went on, I was upset with myself for not taking the new baby and not letting her live with family. When asked again, I took her. I never regretted this decision a minute. These are now my daughters and I love each and every one of them with all my heart. I always want the best for them. Unfortunately, I simply can’t provide it. One thing that scared me the most was not being able to afford quality child care while I must work.

Through a lot of looking, I found Opportunity. The name says it all. I can’t believe what amazing people make up this truly incredible school. The school provides for us more than an early childhood education. They held my hands when I needed it most. They linked me with social services that enabled me to stay afloat when I thought I was drowning. The program has also made it possible for the children to receive therapeutic services, and best of all, the children are thriving and learning at an advanced rate.

Because of this tremendous support, I am climbing out of distress, emotionally and financially but everyone at Opportunity has been there to help us along the way. I have been so humiliated about my financial situation but the Opportunity family has never treated me with disrespect. I had my power turned off; they found a way to have it turned back on. I couldn’t give any of the girls any kind of Christmas (which has always been so important to me) and Opportunity came through with help from The Town of Palm Beach United Way toy drive!

Today we are stable, caught up with our bills. The children are healthier, formal adoptions are complete, I am attending work regularly and we are happy. They helped me help myself, keep my little girls safe, and provide my daughters with a loving, nurturing, and educational environment. EVERYONE at Opportunity has been like an angel to my family. The positive change is that I have learned a lot about self-help and survival. I truly have Opportunity, Inc. to thank for that. One day, I hope I can give back the way Opportunity has given to us. Special thanks to The Town of Palm Beach United Way for their support to Opportunity, Inc. I am certain, without this valuable support, Opportunity, Inc. would do less for our children and families.”

This is what the Town of Palm Beach United Way is all about – helping people help themselves. And by doing this, they improve the quality of their life. Kari is just one of many that have been helped by this amazing agency.

For more information about Opportunity, Inc. and other Town of Palm Beach United Way member agencies, visit www.palmbeachunitedway.org.

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