From Rags to Riches: 16 Graduate from Self Sufficiency Program - WBAY

From Rags to Riches: 16 Graduate from Self Sufficiency Program

Brown County -

Sixteen people are recognized by a Brown County non-profit group Tuesday for becoming self-sufficient.

For the first time in years, they are no longer depending on any public assistance for housing and other basic needs.

"It's been a long road," says Anna Nowakowski.

From rags to riches, Nowakowski seems to have it all now.

Three years ago, the single mom felt that was impossible.

"Right after the divorce and after I lost my job, I'm like, well this is it. We're going to be living out of a car," recalls Nowakowski, now a graduate of the Family Self Sufficiency Program.

She applied for housing assistance, but was wait-listed due to demand.

With her money nearly gone, she finally received the housing assistance and was then accepted into the Family Self Sufficiency Program, run by non-profit Integrated Community Solutions.

"We work on whatever goals they look at. Goals usually are budget counseling, credit counseling, parenting skills, if they're looking for that, employability," explains Nicole Tiedt, Programs Leaders at ICS.

Tuesday, Nowakowski and 15 others became success stories for the program that teaches life skills and independence.

"It was one of the most difficult things just because of my background, coming from a family where we already needed help. I was trying to do it all on my own, but granted, sometimes you just need help. But that doesn't mean you stay on the help. You find a way to create your own solutions," says Montriesia Gourrier, a graduate of the Family Self Sufficiency Program.

"They've done it all on their own, with the help of case management of course, but they have to be committed. They have to follow through, and it's all up to them," says Tiedt.

"It truly saved my family as well as changed our life for the better," says Nowakowski.

The program offered Nowakowski the support system she needed to get her nursing degree and put her on a path to medical school.

Now, she's trying to pay it forward and inspire others facing the same challenges.

"You can do it. Never give up. And this goes for anybody: just believe in yourself, and you can get there," she adds.

For more information on the Family Self Sufficiency Program, click here.

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