Beyond Emancipation

Lena: Building a Life for her Family

“It’s been a difficult year,” shares Lena, a 23-year-old Oakland native. “The pandemic has been an eye opener. I’ve learned to budget not only money but also supplies. I’ve also gotten closer to my roommates and shared essentials with them.”

For the last 2 years, Lena and her five year-old daughter Kamilah have been living in B:E’s community home for pregnant and parenting women and their children.

“This home is a safe haven for us and our kids,” says Lena. “We have the support system we need here.”

After school started back this fall, Kamilah tested positive for COVID.

“I was really scared because we both have asthma,” Lena shares. “But luckily Kamilah didn’t have to be hospitalized, and we quarantined for more than the suggested period of time just to be safe.”

Before COVID, Lena was studying in a culinary program and living with her grandmother, who passed away due to complications from cancer.

“My grandma was the rock in our family, and the only family I could count on,” says Lena.

After losing her grandmother, Lena came to B:E, toured the house, and met with staff.

“I needed a breath of fresh air, and B:E came through for us at the perfect time,” says Lena.

B:E Coach Miss Kim has been a great support for Lena. “Miss Kim is my backup, always on my side,” says Lena. “She treats me like one of her daughters and Kamilah like one of her grandkids. I’ve never had someone have my back like Miss Kim.”

Right now, Lena is looking for a job that will allow her to care for Kamilah and build a career. She loves animals and would like to work at a vet clinic. Lena is also working with Miss Kim and other B:E coaches to secure her next housing. Lena’s time in the community home expires in November. She would like to stay in the same neighborhood so Kamilah can keep going to the same school so she doesn’t have to make another transition.

“My mom moved us around a lot.” Lena says, “I want Kamilah to have more stability than I did and to be able to trust that home is home.”

Lena is working hard to create a safe and happy life for her and Kamilah, and she knows she has the support of B:E.

“B:E believes in my potential to be something greater. And I know they won’t forget about me,” says Lena.

Now, Lena and Kamilah have moved into their own home with B:E support.