Lenora overcame significant hardships in her life before she came to Blueprints. Though she hails from Beaver County, Lenora has lived in Washington since 2010. After undergoing treatment for her addiction at Greenbrier Treatment Center, she was referred to Blueprints.
“I was in a relationship that ended with domestic violence,” she said. “I thought about moving, but there’s a lot of help in Washington.” Fresh Start, a program run by Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania, helped Lenora move into safe, stable Section 8 housing.
Lenora then enrolled in Blueprints’ Getting Ahead program. “I learned a lot in Getting Ahead and enjoyed the support,” she said. “It started my motivation to change my life. I got a lot of input in many different areas. Then, I just stepped into it and into helping myself with my past.”
Lenora appreciated the strong support network within Blueprints. In addition to Hilary, who facilitated Getting Ahead, she was also referred to Laura who meets with residents regarding Blueprints’ Matched Savings Account program; this program provides a $4,000 match for the first $2,000 saved towards the costs of home ownership, postsecondary education or small business capitalization.
Lenora’s dream of owning a home started to become more of a reality when she met with Blueprints’ Housing Counselor Kim. “Everything was motivating me,” she said. “Every step I took. My daughter was my cheerleader and everyone at Blueprints was cheering me on too. Before, I didn’t think I could do things. Then, this one thing came up and I would go ‘Oh, I can’t, I can’t do it’, but then, I did it. Then I would go through the same steps with the next challenge and open that world.”
“She was a model participant for our Home Ownership Center,” said Kim. “She did everything that she was asked to do to help make her dream a reality. Not everyone shows that dedication, but she was very goal-oriented. She used money orders and photocopies, which she sent with self-addressed envelopes to the bank so they would send her letters as proof that she had paid her debts. Home ownership takes a lot of paperwork, so she built her own filing system.”
“After a while, I had to move myself up to a secondhand filing cabinet,” Lenora joked.
Lenora’s credit score was close to ready when she met with Kim, but she had to settle some charges on her account. She was able to do that within six months of her first meeting with Kim. “She would tell me ‘If this is in my way, tell me how I get it out of my way’,” Kim recalled. “She was very optimistic and focused.”
Lenora was thrilled the day she learned her application had been approved, “I came home one day and there was a letter in my mailbox,” Lenora said. “It was a letter letting me know that my loan was approved.”
Lenora currently works at Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services assisting developmentally disabled adults in independent living and teaching them new life skills. She has closed on her property, where her house is being built through the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County.
Lenora is most excited for her grandchildren visiting her in her new home. “I have six of them,” she said. “They’re everything to me right now and I can’t wait for them to visit me in my new home.”
Lenora is grateful for all the help that she has received. “Community action equals Blueprints equals love,” she said. “I wake up every morning and thank God for this opportunity.”