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Karl remembers the moment like it was yesterday.

22-year old Jaznelly walked into the La Causa Crisis Nursery in Milwaukee upset and in need of help.  “She was on the run from a bad situation and needed to find immediate shelter for her kids,” he recalls.

It was 2009, and the single mom, former foster child, and survivor of sexual abuse had once again found herself in a dangerous relationship. “I had met someone I thought I was in love with, and he turned out to be very abusive to me,” she said.

Karl eased her fears, saying, “Don’t worry. We can watch over your kids. They are safe here,” Karl said.

This wasn’t the first time Karl and his team had been there for Jaznelly. In 2006 the center had provided shelter for her first-born son, after she had suddenly become homeless.

“One of the great things about United Way funding is it has allowed our program to be accessible at any time,” said Karl.  “We are open 24-hours a day, so if there is a major crisis late at night, like with Jaznelly’s experience, having that accessibility really benefits them.”

Jaznelly was once again grateful to Karl and his team, and she was determined to change her situation for the better. The center provided care for her kids while Jaznelly took classes to become a certified tax preparer.

“No matter what your income the cost of child care can be a struggle for anyone,” says Robyn Shemwell, program assistant at La Causa. “Without United Way’s support we wouldn’t be able to provide stability for families like Jaznelly’s. When you stabilize families you are stabilizing the community.”

Last year, 88% of parents who used the United Way-funded La Causa Crisis Center felt their stress level decreased

Today Karl reflects back on his friendship with 29-year old Jaznelly and is incredibly proud of how far she’s come. “She’s such a positive person, even in those situations where I thought she may not see this through,” he said. “You could see that with some time and space, she was going to do something better.”

Today Jaznelly is a successful business owner.  She’s also a happily- married mother of two and a certified foster parent to her nephew (thanks to help from another United Way-funded program partner Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services) 

“No matter what her struggles have been, Jaznelly is a person who genuinely wants to always help others, her positive spirit is infectious,” Karl said.  “I really think that has helped get her to where she is today.”

Parents work hard to help their children grow up safe, happy and healthy. United Way is able to invest in supports for their future, and the immediate needs that pop up along the way,” said Jim McLaughlin, United Way Education Portfolio Manager. “With help from United Way Jaznelly was not only able to become a secure support system financially for her family, but a great role model and parent for her kids.“

Being the head of her household has also allowed Jaznelly’s husband to fulfill his dream of being a stay-at-home dad. “He loves taking care of our kids, and the kids love him too,” she said.

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