Natasha Bennett is a 29-year-old single mother of two girls, ages four and seven. She came to Brightpoint after leaving an abusive relationship with her children’s father. He demanded that she stay home and not work, then signed up for credit cards in her name and maxed them out. “The financial hardship was something that was always held over my head” says Natasha.
Following years of abuse, Natasha recalls what happened that made her leave. She was assaulted in front of her children and her seven-year-old daughter, who is autistic, told Natasha’s parents about it in vivid detail. That’s when the reality of the situation sunk in. Natasha packed up all their belongings and moved out.
While staying with her parents in another town, Natasha started a new relationship. She moved back to Fort Wayne and found a job at a local hotel. Things were going well until Natasha’s new relationship became abusive. Following a violent episode, she went to work and broke down to her coworkers. Natasha told them that she felt defeated. Through years of abusive relationships, she had been told that she couldn’t do anything on her own – and she had begun to believe it. One of her coworkers had received assistance from Brightpoint and encouraged her to call.
At Brightpoint, Natasha was connected with Taya Shoudel, a Family Development Worker. With Taya’s support, she quickly found a house to rent. Brightpoint assisted her with a deposit, utilizing Outcomes Financial Assistance (OFA) funds. “It may sound silly, but I didn’t even know how to get an account set up in my name,” says Natasha. “Taya was there for me!”
Once settled into her new home with her girls, Taya helped Natasha apply for the Energy Assistance Program and enroll her youngest daughter in Head Start. When an issue arose at Natasha’s workplace, and they would no longer accommodate her schedule, she again felt defeated and started to cry. She called Taya, and by the time the call ended, she says she felt empowered to find a new job. “Sitting down with (Taya,) I didn’t feel like someone was just sitting there to try to help me – I felt like I was sitting with a friend.”
Natasha is also grateful for the Head Start staff who have allowed her to drop off her preschooler at a time that works for her schedule. “The men and women (at Head Start) are so fantastic,” Natasha says. “They take her at 7:30 every morning and are just so excited to see her.”
Natasha says she would recommend Brightpoint to anyone who can use the assistance. “There are so many people who need help and are unwilling to take it,” she says. “It took a lot for me to realize that your pride is not the number one priority – especially when you have children watching you.”
She recalls how scary it was to leave her children’s father. “I worked so hard to get my kids into a place that is safe,” Natasha says. “…after years of manipulation, of thinking that I wouldn’t be good enough, and that I couldn’t do this by myself…. here I am! I’m doing it.”