"Although I've experienced many injustices, I hope that I can help create a better experience for future generations." - Jennifer Bereskin
Hearing and seeing Jennifer speak, you can't help but be inspired and motivated. Her story is one of generational trauma filled with domestic violence, rape, and chronic homelessness. Jennifer herself did not start high school until she was 16 years of age but even then she was determined to break those cycles.
Jennifer gave birth to her son Corban while also serving as the guardian of her younger sister and fleeing a domestic violence situation. Jennifer found that navigating through the maze of government agencies was stressful but she eventually found her way to YWCA's Pathways for Women. It was here that Jennifer was able to focus on both her son and her own health because "when you're constantly in survival mode, it's hard to think past the moment you're in right now." At YWCA, Jennifer learned about the impact and importance of self-care. Jennifer's case manager helped come up with short term goals to keep Jennifer on track and connected her with legal services that ensured she would have sole custody of her son. Jennifer was also able to obtain therapy for Corban who was diagnosed with autism.
"Stable housing is a crucial part of his ongoing therapy. When we were experiencing homelessness, it disrupted his development so much that he started losing motor skills and even stopped talking altogether."
Jennifer now has stable housing in Edmonds. Her son is a very smart, active, chatty 7-year-old who wants to be an astronaut. Stable housing allowed Jennifer to focus on her education and advocacy work. She is an advocate for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance where she ensures all Washington residents thrive in safe, healthy, affordable homes. As an advocate Edmonds Community College, Jennifer serves on the Diversity Council, the Wellness Peer Advocate Program, and is a Tri-Chair Pow-Wow Community Member.
"I love being an advocate and plan to get a Master's degree in Public Policy as well as a degree in Tribal Law."
Jennifer has not let her experiences hold her back. Her hope is that she can create a better experience for future generations. She graduated with a degree in visual communications from Edmonds Community College in 2013.
"Early in life, I was told that I wouldn't make it this far. That my dreams would never amount to much. I'm proud to say that I have and will continue to defy the odds."
We can't wait to see what Jennifer does next and wish her all the success in her journey. Jennifer reminds us that, "we cannot do anything without working together." You too can be part of YWCA's movement supporting women and girls and attend our King County Luncheon. We're a movement by our selves but we're a force when we are together. Join us and be "all in" for Washington women.
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