Far away from friends and family, Irina spent seven years in an abusive marriage. “It was like living on a volcano,” she recalls, “never knowing when it would erupt.” With two children to think about, she knew she had to make a change.
Irina and her children sought refuge at a local domestic violence shelter. With just three dollars in her pocket and limited language skills, starting over seemed impossible. By enrolling in YWCA St. Paul’s Transitional Housing Program (THP), she was able to make a new start.
At YW Irina found not only a safe place to call home but also the ongoing support she needed to heal, build new skills and move forward. Over the course of two years, she set and achieved ambitious goals like learning English, becoming financially independent and learning to drive. It’s now been a year since she completed the program and Irina continues to thrive.
Like many single parents, Irina’s days are busy. She works as a personal care attendant, volunteers with a Russian language program and sings in her church choir. In the future she hopes to attend college, but for now she’s satisfied seeing her children healthy and happy. Thinking back to where they were just three years ago, she’s proud she was able to change their lives. “It was a very big risk to do something,” she says. “Now I realize it was a bigger risk to do nothing.”
“It was a very big risk to do something. Now I realize it was a bigger risk to do nothing.”—Irina