Brighton Center at its very core is a community based agency. The people in our community and their needs are the driving force behind the work we do. Trends and fads will come and go, but Brighton Center will always provide services the community needs and wants. Every day, Brighton Center works to engage all members of the community from young children to seniors so that real change can become reality. Every one of them has a story worth sharing... the following are just a few.
Shawn was working, but struggling to find housing he could afford. He spent some time couch-surfing and ended up staying at the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. At the Emergency Shelter, staff informed Shawn of available resources, including how to apply for housing through the Housing Authority of Covington and programs at Brighton Center that might help. Shawn moved into his apartment in City Heights and shortly after learned we opened an office right in the neighborhood.
Shawn had a goal – to get a car. To achieve that goal, Shawn knew he needed a better paying job and some guidance in money management. Initially looking to sign up for our Two Cents About Finance workshop, Shawn came to our City Futures office, but soon learned there was even more we could help with. “I tend to stay to myself and don’t ask for help,” Shawn said, “I thought, these are some good people and I think they’ll be able to help me.”
Shawn was ready to get to work and learned that through City Futures his rent would stay the same despite changes in his earned income, allowing him to keep more of his earnings and encourage saving money. After signing up for the Jobs Plus Earned Income Disregard program, Shawn met with our City Futures Career Developer to discuss employment opportunities, his experience, and interests.
Shawn expressed interest in Career Bridge, which is a partnership program between United Way, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Brighton Center and local employers that provides a career pathway from entry-level, low-wage jobs to Advanced Manufacturing. Shawn started working for Chick-fil-A in March 2019 and has been a model employee ever since.
This journey hasn’t always been easy. It takes Shawn about 10 minutes to get to work by bus. However, he works second shift and the bus line that runs to City Heights stops running before he’s done with work. When Shawn gets off work he takes a different bus to get a little bit closer to home, then walks 40 minutes up the hill.
Shawn’s determination has kept him going. Some nights he has thought about quitting on his way home but reminds himself that he has a good job and he needs the money. While his previous job was also in fast food, he is now making a much higher wage and working in a healthier, friendlier work environment. Shawn reminds himself of his goals – getting a car, a higher paying job, and spending more time on passions like writing.
Shawn has continued to work with a Financial Coach through City Futures, has opened a bank account, and is saving for a car. Shawn is taking advantage of an Individual Development Account which matches his savings up to $2,000.
Before working with Brighton Center, Shawn says life was more difficult and he felt unorganized. With the support of City Futures, Career Bridge, and Financial Wellness, Shawn said “life has changed for the better and everything is back in order.” Despite his own initial reluctance to seek out help, he encourages others to learn what Brighton Center has to offer.
“There’s help out there – you just have to come in. They can help different people, all with different needs, and different situations.”
In December of 2019, at the City Futures end of the year celebration, Shawn was recognized for his hard work. “Getting the award made me feel good to know I’m doing well, and that the good I do is noticed by others.” Reflecting further on his involvement with Brighton Center, Shawn says “it’s never too late to start on your journey towards self-sufficiency.” What is this new reality like for Shawn? “It’s shocking, it’s different, but I know it’s what I deserve.” With stable housing, steady employment, a bank account, and savings, the future looks bright for Shawn.
City Futures is a collaborative partnership between Brighton Center and the Housing Authority of Covington.
In late August, Brighton Center’s Street Outreach Team came in contact with three youth (all over the age of 18), who had been living outside on the grounds of Newport High School’s stadium, where they were sleeping on bleachers. Street Outreach began meeting with the youth daily at the library, assessing their needs, and providing food and hygiene supplies. With their parents deceased, and no family to rely on, the youth were given a tent to have shelter in the woods while they worked toward a more stable option.
Unfortunately, the tent, their only shelter, was vandalized one day while they were working and they no longer felt safe staying there. They found a person that would allow them to sleep in their tent in their backyard for $50 a week. The youth visited Hosea House as often as possible to have a warm meal.
They were connected to Kentucky Career Center to learn about job training opportunities and obtain the necessary documents to seek employment. Street Outreach staff learned that one of the youth was very close to getting her high school diploma, but traditional school was not an option as this youth was working. She was connected to the Newport School of Innovation to finish her diploma through online schooling with classroom support.
Street Outreach referred the youth to Welcome House for their transitional living program. They began meeting with a Welcome House Case Manager about housing options. They needed to find a landlord that would rent to them, and Street Outreach made several contacts. Welcome House provided funding for a deposit and first month’s rent. In an effort to be able to maintain their housing, the youth were required to maintain employment.
Street Outreach helped in any way possible to create a successful transition to stable housing. This included helping with laundry, showering facilities, and rides to interviews or bus passes.
The three are now actively employed, reaching their educational goals, and have obtained a safe place to live through a collaboration with Welcome House. The youth are also still actively involved in aftercare services through Street Outreach to make sure they continue on the path toward stability, success, and achieving their goals.
Brighton Center’s Street Outreach Team is out in the community where youth are known to congregate. Staff work to build trusting relationships with at-risk youth in order to connect them to services. Once connected, staff use preventative methods, individualized assessment, service linkages, case planning, and follow-up to set youth on the path to stabilization.
I first became involved with Brighton Center in September, 2018, when I came to a homeownership class which was required for Section 8 housing in Boone County. I met with Sharon Carr in Financial Wellness who talked with me about the Individual Development Account (IDA),a matched saving program that can be used for homeownership.
I met with Sharon once a month while taking various financial education workshops, also offered by Brighton Center. During this time I was fortunate enough to receive support for my family through the Food Pantry and with gifts for my children during the Holiday Drive.
My biggest obstacle was trying to save money and avoid credit cards! I am proud to say that because of the financial tools I learned at Brighton Center, I was able to save $1,000 and received $4,000 as a result of the Assets For Independence federal grant supported by U.S. Bank. These funds enabled me to purchase my first home for myself and my children. I feel so blessed!
I will never forget the day I met Sharon at the bank and withdrew the $5,000 for the down payment on the house. My future looks so bright now; I just bought my first home, and also recently bought a new car. I am so thankful for my many blessings. My future dreams are to continue to work hard, pay off my debt, and fix up my home. Thank you, Brighton Center, for all your help.
Brighton Center is amazing, helping you every step of the way to succeed. They will help you set up financial goals, help you manage your money, and help get your credit in order. They have wonderful programs, and if you want to buy a home, they have a wonderful homeownership class that gives you so much understanding about buying a home.
It was the middle of August, 2017, and my three kids and I were homeless. That whole year was rough; we had been spending nights on the street, wandering around the streets of Newport during the day, not sure of where to turn for help, until someone told me Brighton Center could help with clothing and food. I met with Tiffany Neri at the Family Center, and she started guiding me to the right places and resources to get me back on my feet.
It’s not easy being a single dad of three. You don’t get as much help. I make too much money at my job to qualify for food stamps, but I’m not eligible for child support. I’m teaching myself the roles of being both a mom and a dad to my kids – learning to be patient, to listen, and be more sensitive while giving them structure, guidance, and discipline.
On top of making sure my kids and I had our basic needs met, Tiffany helped me sign up for Brighton Center’s Rapid Rehousing program. Amazingly, within two months, I was lucky enough to sign the lease to my new apartment on Christmas Eve. It was such a great Christmas present.
Brighton Center helped me overcome food and housing insecurity. The staff helped me provide stability for my kids. We’re now able to have a home. We can go outside and toss a football. I just taught my son how to ride his bike. My kids have so many new friends in our new neighborhood – where before, they were isolated. They can grow, learn, and express themselves with kids their own age. I’ve learned how to be the responsible man and father my kids need; keeping myself on the right path and not just living in survival mode. I can think through problems more clearly now, and provide for my family. Brighton Center helped me grow and mature in a big way. Without the help I received, I might have lost my kids to the system.
I have gained new confidence in my ability to be a parent, as well as the tools to establish goals and the courage to achieve them. Tiffany also helped me sign up for the Individual Development Account, which will match what I’m able to save so I can buy a car.
My life has changed so much since I met Tiffany with Brighton Center. I don’t worry anymore about my kids ending up in an adoption agency, because I have the resources to give them a home and the courage to raise them the right way. To those who might be afraid of reaching out, Brighton Center will be there, ready to meet you where you are. Do the work in your program, and they will work with you. 11
The Elizabeth Herald Community Support Award was established to honor those people or organizations who work side by side with us to achieve our mission and impact our communities. The award is named after Liz Herald, who was a long-time volunteer who spent countless hours leading a quilting class for the neighborhood, planning day outings for local seniors, and serving on our Board of Directors. She set an example of leadership and believed in our mission with all her heart and soul. This award is the highest honor we give a community partner.
This year, we are proud to honor Duke Energy with the Community of Support Award.
Not only has Duke Energy helped steer the direction of our organization through many years of board member participation, but they’ve played a strong role in the community along with serving on the Workforce Investment Board, GROW NKY, the Chamber, and many other non-profit Boards. They are truly invested in the NKY community!
Volunteerism and financial support also reflects Duke’s commitment to Brighton Center. Most recently, Duke volunteers mentored young adults at our City Futures program, helped clean up Campbell Lodge, and supported the STEM Bicycle Club. Duke volunteers also built a shed at Brighton Recovery Center and painted and cleaned up an apartment on 10th street in Newport for our Transitional Living Program. They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and put in some sweat equity for our customers.
When we look back at how they have supported our events and programs – we can document over $150,000! They’ve helped support the Center for Employment Training, NKY Scholar House, Kentucky Career Center, and Brighton Recovery Center. Our staff also have negotiated countless payment plans between Duke and our customers. They’ve made available energy audits and the supplies to make homes more energy efficient available to our neighbors, and they’ve helped us save money on our facilities, too, with special programs to install LED lighting.
Their reach is far and wide, touching many people’s lives in a positive way. We are grateful for their partnership and shared vision of creating a strong workforce and community.
I was lost in active addiction for close to 20 years before coming to Brighton Recovery Center (BRC). I struggled being a mother to my four children. I was unemployable, untrustworthy, and unreliable, isolated from family, and could not see the crash course which lied ahead in my own future.
While in active addiction, I had a few run-ins with the Department of Corrections due to my unmanageable lifestyle. In 2012, I became a resident of BRC through a Department of Corrections referral. The Recovery Center saved my life. If it were not for the amazing long-term program and the caring staff that loved me through the process, I doubt I would be able to tell my story today.
When I came to BRC I did not want to be surrounded by so many women, but I wanted sobriety more than anything. I was reluctant in the beginning, but saw something in the women that I wanted. As I progressed through the components of the program I began to see changes in myself that made me want sobriety even more and in all aspects of my life.
Brighton Center taught me how to live. I learned the Recovery Dynamics program which introduced me to a 12-step program to treat my addiction. I was able to use the tools I learned to change my habits and lifestyle, which has given me the ability to become a productive member of society.
I no longer wake up in the morning regretting my life, needing to feed my addiction, and cursing GOD. Now, I wake up and thank GOD for my sobriety and all the blessings that he has given me. I have no regrets now because I know how to use my journey to help others with their own. I now have a clear path for my future. I am an awesome mom to my (now) five children. I met my significant other in recovery. He and I have purchased our first home just over a year ago. I am now a trustworthy friend, 12-step supporter, BRC alumni, and a reliable source of hope for others. Today, I have over seven years of sobriety, spend lots of time with my family, and I am blessed to be employed with the program that saved my life.
My hopes and dreams for the future are to continue pursuing a career in addiction and recovery and to use what I have learned in my journey to help others. This is a passion I hold dear to my heart. I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in the program which saved my life. I am forever grateful to BRC for seeing in me what I could not see in myself so long ago. I can hold my head up high with dignity, knowing that I am no longer that lost little girl, but an empowered woman with a bright future. Thank you, Brighton Center.
Homeward Bound provided a safe place for my son off the streets. It was a relief to know Xavion was safe and sheltered while I worked to get our situation straightened out.
I continued to stay on the streets for a couple of weeks until there was an opening at a local homeless shelter called Welcome House. During that time, I was able to visit Xavion every day. Staff at Homeward Bound always made sure I had food and basic necessities. Staff also worked with me through case management to look at job openings, apartment listings, and made sure we had proper documentation to apply for services such as child care assistance. Once I knew my son was safe, I was able to concentrate on finding employment, learn how to save and budget, and secure an apartment.
Over the summer, Xavion was able to participate in Youth Leadership Development (YLD) where he had the best summer ever enjoying activities he never would have otherwise. YLD taught him to be more respectful and follow rules better. Despite our situation, he was very happy and secure. When we finally got our own apartment, Homeward Bound staff helped moved us in. Welcome House and Brighton Center staff partnered to ensure we had kitchen items, bath items, and donated furniture, including a kitchen table and chairs.
One of the things I learned about myself through this journey is that I am capable and can take care of my son and myself. I learned that people did want to help us and I wasn’t alone.
I am now stably housed with my son who is in school and doing well. I am working full-time and we feel so much safer. I know that Brighton Center is there for me if I need help in the future. No matter what your situation is, don’t hesitate. Go to Brighton Center and talk to someone. They may not have all the answers, but they will work to find someone who does.
When asked for one word to describe herself, Aurora Butler did not hesitate. “Adaptable,” she said. “I am always able to adapt to my situation and make it work for me. Although being the sole provider for three children is difficult, I knew I could not give up."
Aurora:My experience with Brighton Center began over two years ago. The community of City Heights was hosting a job fair. As a resident of City Heights, I decided to attend the event with a friend. At the job fair, I met a representative from Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training (CET). The following week, I attended an info session and enrolled shortly after in the Medical Assisting skill division. CET deserves all the credit for providing the foundation I needed to be successful.
After graduation, I was hired as a medical assistant at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. I don’t own a vehicle and rely on public transportation. Despite the almost hour and a half daily commute each way, I was able to maintain employment at The Christ Hospital for close to a year. In late March 2019, my day care provider could no longer provide coverage after 6:00 p.m. With the length of my commute, it was impossible to maintain my position at The Christ Hospital and be back in time to pick up the kids from day care. This left me with no other choice but to resign.
After resigning from my position, I was feeling depressed. I reached out to my Career Coach at CET who set up an appointment at the City Futures office in City Heights. The Career Coach and Career Developer with the City Futures program helped update my resume and initiate a job search. I began to volunteer daily at the City Futures office and am now serving as a Community Coach working with residents on their career pathway. Finally, the call I had been waiting for finally came. St. Elizabeth Healthcare wanted me to come in for an interview.
I worked with the City Futures Career Developer to get ready for the interview through mock interviews to help prepare for the big day. I was connected to Dress for Success for appropriate professional clothing. I was nervous, but feeling confident. I knew I had what it took to be successful. Then came the good news, I got my dream job!
Adaptability and a belief in herself. Those were the keys to opening up a whole new future for Aurora. When learning of her new career at St. Elizabeth, Aurora felt that she had “overcome the impossible.” She had wanted to work at St. Elizabeth since she interned there in 2017. After her internship, St. Elizabeth did not have any openings and Aurora took the position at The Christ Hospital. Over the past two years, she applied for a number of positions but had been unable to break through. Aurora kept pushing, never giving up on her dream. Today, she has accomplished her goal and is ready to begin working on her next one. She is working with a financial coach through the City Futures program and her next goal is to purchase a car and eventually a home.
Aurora continues to serve as a mentor and role model for her community. She participates in programs and events sponsored by the City Futures program and encourages her friends and neighbors to do the same. Aurora knows that her story is a story of empowerment. She readily shares it to offer hope to others and to let them know dreams really can come true.
Before coming to Brighton Center I was living in Kansas City, where I struggled in life, running from my problems and listening to peers’ advice who were struggling themselves. My grandmother had recently moved to Cincinnati and wanted to help my son and I. She encouraged me to move and obtain my GED - which I did in three months through the help of the YWCA.
My first interaction with Brighton Center was shortly after moving to Northern Kentucky from Kansas City with one child and another on the way. Feeling very alone and in “last place,” I had fallen behind on my rent. I reached out to Brighton Center and met with a Resource Advocate, Amy Thornton. I remember being so scared walking in those doors, but Amy looked me in the eyes and said, “Do you really think this is it for you?” I immediately felt a weight lifted off of me and even though the immediate crisis was not fixed, her words lifted my spirit and ultimately changed my life.
Through Amy’s encouragement, I was accepted into Northern Kentucky Scholar House and was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, as well as grants and awards from other agencies, so I could attend Gateway Community & Technical College. Because of Brighton Center and other agencies, I am now a Social Work major and am proud to say I have 4.0 GPA. I expect to graduate in the fall of 2020 with my associate’s degree and then I will be pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Northern Kentucky University.
I am feeling stable and learning the importance of good credit and managing my income so I can support my two children - Travon, who is 9 and Tadin, who is 3. I am so proud of these boys. Travon is often seen at Scholar House offering to help moms carry in their groceries or sticking up for friends who may be feeling bullied at school. Tadin is doing well at Bright Days Child Development Center, another wonderful Brighton Center program. I am also able to give back, most recently sharing my story at a United Way kick-off event at Procter & Gamble. I also volunteer at Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission.
If I could send one message to others I would say, don’t be afraid of help, be afraid of NOT asking for help. Waiting to figure it out may not always work, but reaching out to Brighton Center will open doors you don’t expect, and will help you get further than you would ever imagine.
I realize now that feeling in “last place” had value because my children and our future came first.