My Forever Home Sweet Home
Stacy Britton’s story as told to Dorica Watson
I knew I was home before the offer was made, before I signed on the dotted line and even before being notified that I was selected for an interview.
I remember being told that my dream job was available. I think it was early July 2016. A rush of feelings and emotions came over me and thoughts came into my head.
Was I good enough? Do I know enough? Do I have what it takes? Would I be welcome to apply? Would the families be open to me, a person who had experienced what they are currently going through?
But before I allowed the seeds of doubt to infiltrate my universe, I quickly channeled by inner Garden of the Galaxy superhero and said, “I AM GROOT.” Well it was more like, I think I am ready for the challenge because I was built for this and oh what a challenge, well roller coaster, it has been so far.
Let’s go back. My life started much like many other kids I knew. I was born in Fort Wayne into situational poverty. My father was a Vietnam Veteran and my mother worked hard, but they often had more “month” at the end of their money. My dad’s grandparents owned a local paint store in our city which allowed them to leave poverty, and my dad’s mother had purchased stock from a little known company that she worked for during World War II called GE—all without my grandfather knowing—and let’s just say that ended up paying off well.
And when I was about five-years-old, life for my parents and me changed forever. They went from working entry level jobs in a local factory to making better money. The 1980s were good to our family. We went from situational poverty to middle income.
When I was 23, I moved to Muncie with my four-year-old daughter so I could attend Ball State University. There was something about Muncie that spoke to me. There was comfort around me and it seemed that wherever I looked, I could connect with people who were different but innately the same. I did well in school and found time to build community. My parents were great to my daughter and me during this time. They covered my rent and other bills, including my daughter’s daycare. Life remained the same as long as I was in school. My parents wanted to do for my brother and me what their parents were unable to do for them. While my parents were very generous, this was not something that would last forever.
Quitting school was not an easy decision nor was it an easy process. I did not know what I needed or where I should turn. One thing that was certain, I found myself in financial poverty and needed help. I remember waking up unsure and afraid.
My daughter, she’s blind, and it was hard to find an affordable daycare that could accommodate her needs. The School for the Blind in Indianapolis was the only place that fit the bill which meant I had to send her away. While I missed her greatly, the school provided the education and support that was unavailable locally. During this time I got back into school and worked, but it was short lived. When she returned home during holidays and for vacation, I was unable to find childcare to take care of her and I was forced to quit my jobs . . . so many jobs.
Over the next few years life changed again. I was the mother of two—still struggling financially—and I knew I only needed a few classes to complete my degree; but it always seemed too far away with too many obstacles for me to overcome to be my reality. That was until I was introduced to a local community group, Overcoming Poverty Together.
I had a couple of friends who participated in the Circles program and before long, because of Overcoming Poverty Together, so was I. This was the first time in a long time I felt like I belonged. The classes through the program taught me a lot, but it was the people who were the greatest teachers. I could share my struggles, my frustrations, and my dreams with my resource allies and my new friends with no fear of judgement. And no one made me feel dumb because I didn’t know how to manage money. They accepted me and offered me guidance and support to be the author of my own story.
One story was to be a college graduate and before long, with the support and encouragement from my Circles friends, I graduated from Ball State. Oh how I remember the day I had my “aha moment” and decided to finish school. My resource ally, Hal, was there. We both had tears in our eyes. He was proud of me and I was proud of him, for believing in me and encouraging me to believe in myself.
Let’s say I’m lucky I lived through who I was to become who I am now. Those aren’t my words but part of a quote I read somewhere.
It wasn’t long after graduating that I married the love of my life and we relocated near my hometown. Everything was great. We had a new life, new friends, and welcomed a new baby. I was able to work in the helping field and met many people who have become our forever friends. This life was good, but we missed community, diversity and our circle of support. We began to talk about what was missing and where the void could be filled and all roads pointed to Muncie.
Can you believe my dream job, a job to work with the Circles program, was available? Do you believe in coincidences? Well, not me. I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This was my chance to do for someone else, what had been done for me. I was nervous, but I applied, and, to my surprise, I got a phone interview that turned into a lunch interview and on to the final interview.
When I drove down from Columbia City to Muncie for that final interview, my palms were sweaty and I wasn’t sure I was ready. But I channeled my inner Star War’s voice and I kept saying, “The force is with me.”
But when that didn’t work, I thought: What would Stacy do?
I walked in with my head high. I chose to be my true, honest self and walked out with the position. I was blown away. How could my wish, my dream, be coming true?
“I am GROOOOT!”
I could not remember the last time I was so proud of myself. My longing for community, diversity, and connection was being fulfilled.
It was less than three weeks before my start date, for reasons outside of my control, that my dream of home—my dream job—was no more. I was heartbroken to share with my family, friends, and those who gave me the opportunity, that I was unable to fulfill my commitment.
After months of reliving the moment, I was informed the job was still available. I knew the reason it was open was because it was mine. But could this be real? Would they consider me again?
Before I made the call, I worked on a plan with my family, made adjustments in my life in order to live with whatever the outcome. Even if it didn’t work out and they wouldn’t consider me again, at least I could say that the job had been mine.
With all of my doubts, I made the call and to my surprise I was invited in for yet another interview. This time I knew it was right; all things lined up accordingly. Whose timing was more exact than God’s?
I walked into the interview, embarrassed because the last time I had to walk away from it all, but I walked out with my dream job . . . again!
I remember feeling like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. There is no place like home, there is no place like home. Not only am I officially home with my family and my dream job, but we have finalized the process for the purchase of our dream home. I have come full circle.
The greatest joys I have in life are the love I have for God, family, friends, my fat snoring dog, and my dream job as the Circles Coach. And my love for Muncie—my forever home.
Dorica Young-Watson is the Community Engagement Manager for Second Harvest Food Bank. She directs the relationship based poverty initiative, Circles, that was started in Muncie for over 11 years ago. Dorica is credited for co-creating curriculums for the “Understanding People in Poverty” for middle income individuals and employers, as well as a youth 15 financial empowerment and mindfulness curriculum. She is the mother of three, Jerren, Justin and Joslyn, GG to Javier, and is married to her wonderful husband Eric.