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A Season to Give: FORMER HOMELESS MOM GAINS OWN APARTMENT AND A JOB
For six months, Shaquan Searls and her two children called Harmony House, New Community’s transitional housing facility, home. It was not an easy time for her as she sought to get her family’s life back on track after an out- of- state relocation didn’t result in her finding employment as she had originally envisioned. At Harmony House, Searls found a staff that was interested in seeing her family return to a life of self-sufficiency and also equipped her with the right resources to make it happen. “I got a lot of help from Ms. (Angela) Potts, Ms. (Lisa) Chavis and Ms. (Linda) Washington,” she said. “If I hit a bump in the road, they kept me motivated and told me to keep pushing forward,” said Searls, who moved into Harmony House in September 2011. “They gave me connections that really helped me out a lot,” she added. Searls enrolled in a class at Essex County College in Newark that trained her to become a certified nursing assistant, or CNA. This was a certification that Searls had previously held, but had allowed to lapse when she relocated to Seattle, Wash. She completed the Essex County College course, earning her CNA certification. Two days later, while searching the newspaper, she came across an advertisement for a full-time CNA position being offered through an employment agency. “A nursing home with locations in Paterson and Wayne was looking for a CNA,” she explained. Searls went for the job interview and was hired. Today, she and her family no longer reside at Harmony House, but now have their own apartment. ‘“I love this field that I’m in. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I like helping people,” she said, adding her children are also proud of her accomplishments. They are not the only ones. “Ms. Searls was very diligent in pursuing what she wanted to do,” said Linda Washington, one of the Harmony House caseworkers who assisted her in becoming self-sufficient. “She didn’t relent.”