Embracing Change

Dan Gregory October 7, 2019

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if you’re afraid, do it anyway.”

by Dan Gregory, Strategic Communications Manager

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if you’re afraid, do it anyway.”

For Hawa, stepping bravely into the unknown has become a fact of life. Maybe this willingness to embrace new situations was nurtured by her mother, who immigrated to the United States with 7-year-old Hawa to forge a new path. Maybe she had to learn it quickly when her father kicked her out of the house when she was a teenager. Or maybe it’s her own innate tenacity for life and exploration, reflected in her son Hassan who wants to see how everything works and where every cord leads.

Wherever it comes from, though, Hawa has learned to not be afraid to embrace change.

“When my father kicked me out, I didn’t know what to do,” she reflected. “One of my close friends told me I had to suck it up and go to shelter, because then I could get the resources I needed to make a new start.” She was soon living in her own apartment at Beacon’s Nicollet Square and completing high school. “I finally had my own place to stay,” Hawa beams. “It was a dream come true for me! It meant I could focus on me, and not just trying to get by. I had to learn to let go of a lot of pain, though, let go of any hate I had. Having a place of my own let me do that step by step.”

After getting pregnant, Hawa was able to move to Beacon’s Cedar View apartments. “I wasn’t really nervous during the move – it was a smooth transition. But I was nervous to be a new mother!” When Hassan was born, “it felt completely overwhelming at first,” Hawa sighed. “It took time. My whole routine changed, from me, to him and me – and mostly him!”

Her onsite advocate through Simpson Housing was a tremendous help in figuring out how to adjust and structure this new chapter of Hawa’s life. “She helped connect me with daycare, she helped me learn how to cook better and make my own baby food, I could just come downstairs and talk when I needed somebody to listen.” And her advocate worked to connect Hawa with other families in the building. “Once people showed me they were kind, I really opened up. We’re all like sisters now, we’ve got each other’s backs.” Opening up was a big risk for Hawa, but one she’s glad she took. “Don’t be afraid to communicate with your neighbor: they’ll make sure you’re doing ok. Find your people, the ones who will help you grow.”

With eighteen-month Hassan depending on her, Hawa has taken steps to grow in more ways as a person. While she loves her current job as a CNA, she’s studying for a degree in Criminal Justice and hopes to be a probation officer after graduation. “I want to make some kind of difference,” she smiles excitedly. “I love nurturing and caring for people. You’ve got to be able to have some type of heart in you, to be able to say ‘I see your pain’ and help make sure the people you’re working with feel human.” For Hawa, knowing the impact that supportive people have had in her life inspires her to be that presence for someone else. “I’ve been through a lot, but there were always people around who never gave up on me.”

Some days she’s more afraid of the challenges than others. “I’m a mom, I’m a student, I’m working my own job and saving for a car and ready to get my drivers’ license, and sometimes it’s tough to do all of it.” But then Hassan shows off his new skills picking up the phone and Hawa laughs heartily, reminded of how far she’s come by taking the risks.

“I’m ready to bring my different experiences together. I’m ready to try something new, something different. Bring it on!”