Three young siblings play in front of a Tacoma elementary school, climbing on a low wall and posing for photos. They smile, laugh, run around, and hug their mom. People passing by would have no indicators of the hardships Olga and her children have overcome to get where they are today.
Olga met her ex-boyfriend when she was 15 years old. He was much older, but “he swept me off my feet,” she said. She was living with him and had a baby with him at the time he started beating her. He told her no one else cared about her, and the family and culture she was raised in taught her that when you marry, you stay married to the father of your children. She felt like she had nowhere to turn.
“Basically, he took all the rights that a human being could have. He didn’t let me do anything.”
Olga left five days before their wedding.
The children’s school counselor referred Olga to Hopesparks’ Readiness to Learn Program because her family was now homeless. Family Support Specialist Tamela was able to help Olga secure housing and furniture, as well as assist with filing a protection order to keep her and her children safe. Olga and her oldest daughter attended domestic violence counseling and support groups, and Olga earned her diploma. She is now training to become a dental hygienist and her children are succeeding in school.
Initially, Olga was scared to ask for help, but through initiative, determination and love for her children, she followed through on every task set forth for her by Tamela. She said she had to take everything day by day–and on days when she felt too weak, moment by moment–in order to rewrite her story for herself and her children.
Olga now knows the truth about her worth, her children’s worth, and the worth of every individual. She knows it’s worth it to ask for help, and she is stronger than ever.
“I compare myself to a butterfly. Now it’s like everything is getting better and I just want to stay strong for my kids.”