"I got a full time job and we started getting a little breathing room."

Hard Work and a Little Help Bring Success

Questions? Contact Scott Cooper at 816.931.0027 or ScottCooper@mlmkc.org.

Marie Dupens might not consider herself a leader, but her story is one of the early successes

of MLM’s new Family Empowerment.

Marie and her 11-year-old son were among the first to enroll in the new program last fall. Among her efforts has been the Dave Ramsey financial literacy course offered through the initiative. She has also obtained a new job and is moving into safer housing. The financial studies are a good example of how she has benefited.

“I was doing my budget completely wrong,” she now says. “I was spending a lot more on little things than I realized. When something would come up like shoes for my son, we didn’t have the money. We had spent it eating out or something.”

Solutions are not as easy to come by as they might seem, however. For someone working two jobs, studying to be a registered nurse and raising a young child, eating out can be difficult to avoid. The program provides practical ways to avoid that, but for Marie the biggest help came by simply seeing how fast-food bills added up.

“Just seeing how much we spent at McDonald’s opened my eyes,” she explained.

“But they give you a lot of ideas on how to avoid that and that helps.”

Cascading problems are something Marie understands as well. Originally from Michigan, she and her son fled an abusive husband, going first to Shelbyville, Tenn. Approximately 18 months ago, he found them in Tennessee, so they moved to Kansas City, KS., where an acquaintance provided temporary housing. Unfortunately, the housing ran out about the time Marie discovered she couldn’t work because her health-coding certificate did not transfer, and she couldn’t afford the state fee for licensing here.

“I was constantly looking for work, and the school money was going to rent,” she recalled. “That’s when we ended up at City Union Mission.”

Things began to change when she contacted MLM through the mission. She received help finding an apartment and work at a home-health position, in January.

“I got a full time job, and we started getting a little breathing room,” she recalled. “I’m also getting my son caught up on his immunizations.”

The story isn’t over, however. Marie still wants to pursue her degree in nursing at Penn Valley when she saves enough. Her prospects appear good. Shortly before being forced to drop out for financial reasons, she “aced” a required, three-hour class. She makes it clear what motivates her efforts.

“I want to make a little more money, so my son can do some of the things he wants to,” she explained. “He’s the one all this is for.”