By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Twenty years ago, Christy Lee Shockley was a single mother living in a shelter and unable to keep a job. The trauma she had experienced in her childhood caught up to her and she needed support to realize her potential.

In 1998, Christy saw her chance and bravely enrolled in the first cohort of the Center for Urban Families’ “STRIVE Baltimore program,” where she learned the necessary skills for work, like how to dress for work, how to smile and be present, and how to advocate for professional growth.

And it worked.

The Center for Urban Families acts as a leading voice in the national conversation on responsible fatherhood and an advocate for child support reform in Maryland.

Twenty years later, Shockley holds three college degrees, is excelling at work as a government executive, and has three children with her husband of 20 years.

Even more, she has taken lessons learned from STRIVE and her own experiences to mentor young women who face the challenges she once did, according to a news release issued by the Center along with the organization’s 2018 Impact Report.

“We are all the sum total of our life experiences,” Shockley said. Christy said. “My story is one of resilience and perseverance. I tell it proudly, and I do it while smiling.”

Shockley has discovered her voice, found success, and is an economically independent and successful woman. And she credits that jump-start to the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore.

She’s featured in the Center’s 2018 Impact Report, which highlights people who have been pivotal to the organization’s past, present, and future. The core mission of the Center is to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and success.

The Center acts as a leading voice in the national conversation on responsible fatherhood and an advocate for child support reform in Maryland.

It also counts as a resource that helps nonprofits across the country strengthen low-income families and a support network for Baltimore’s most vulnerable citizens.

The Center’s core initiatives include economic success that provides services like STRIVE Baltimore pre-employment training, job placements and re-placements; job retention and advancement assistance; career mapping support and job-coaching; and occupational skills training and education.

Officials say clients must walk out of the Center’s doors with more than job skills; they must be prepared to succeed in all aspects of their daily life.

“Last year, we celebrated 365 graduates from our economic success and family stability programs and 276 individuals securing employment,” said Joseph T. Jones, the Center’s founder and CEO.

“Inspired by our members’ success stories and leaning on their input, we development our new ‘All in’ campaign, a strategy to accelerate social and economic opportunity and advocate for polices that promote equity and racial justice,” Jones said.

“Entering our 20th year of service, we are even more determined to dismantle poverty, not just reduce it,” he said.

Jones continued:

“We are tripling down on our efforts to build communities of hope by removing obstacles to prosperity and connecting our members to careers with family sustaining wages.”

To read the 2018 Impact Report, click here.