Alumna Profile: Candi
Candi is so many things—a teacher, a mentor, an artist, a supervisor, and a mom. She is a brave, strong young woman dedicated to creating the best life for her and her son Angelo. Candi, a graduate of…
Candi is so many things—a teacher, a mentor, an artist, a supervisor, and a mom. She is a brave, strong young woman dedicated to creating the best life for her and her son Angelo. Candi, a graduate of the Class of 2020, is 20 years old, and her son Angelo is 5. She is a supervisor at Goodwill, and is proud to have earned a promotion to this position after only a few months. Angelo loves Legos, Marvel, and video games.
Candi started at Florence Crittenton Services in 2016 when she was pregnant. She started to excel academically and grow emotionally thanks to the small class sizes and individualized attention. “I could finally learn,” remembers Candi. “I didn’t feel dumb. I felt smart. That’s when all my grades went from Ds up to As.” School Psychologist Nancy Holtgraves made an impact on Candi emotionally. “The only person I could trust was Nancy,” says Candi. “I would tell her everything. I was safe when I was telling her things. I was not scared to say what I wanted to say, what was on my mind.” Angelo grew and blossomed in the Early Childhood Education Center, too. He learned how to use a fork, started talking more with the support of a speech therapist, and learned his colors. Life at FloCrit showed Candi what a huge impact having a safe space, something she and Angelo did not have at home, could have on her life.
After graduation, Candi made the decision to move out of an unsafe living situation and into her own apartment. Candi knew that she and Angelo needed a place of their own where they could thrive and grow together as a family. She wanted to do better for herself and for her son. Florence Crittenton Housing Coordinator Madison was able to help Candi find her very own apartment, and helped her qualify for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Candi is grateful that Madison helped her get the housing voucher, which helps her pay for rent. “If I didn’t have the voucher, I wouldn’t be able to afford this place by myself, because rent here in Denver is so expensive,” says Candi. “I would need like two or three jobs, but then I wouldn’t be able to see my son, so I’m really grateful.” By mid-summer, Candi and Angelo were moving into their apartment, filling it with furniture, kitchen supplies, and personal care items provided by Florence Crittenton Services, and starting a new chapter of their lives.
Candi and Angelo have both thrived in their new apartment. Candi emphasizes that she feels safe and in control of her life now. She has the space and time to dedicate to her hobbies—art, photography, and sewing. “Mentally, I’ve grown more,” says Candi “Now I’m independent. I don’t have to depend on anybody now. I don’t have to ask to do the little things that I want to do.” Instead of putting all her energy and focus on staying safe and protecting herself, Candi can focus on herself and Angelo. “Now I’m in my own place, I’m safe, I get to do my own art, and sometimes my son does art next to me,” she says. Now Angelo is talking, he watches videos that help him learn, and he has his very own room.
In the last year, Candi has gained the confidence to excel professionally, something she may never have been able to tap into if she hadn’t found safe housing. She works at Goodwill, where she was promoted to supervisor after only a few months. She now trains managers and supervises an entire team of retail and donation associates. “Being a supervisor makes me feel awesome,” says Candi proudly. “I train other managers from different stores. My manager tells me, ‘You did a great job, Candi,’ and getting that praise makes me feel like I’m better. I’m proud of myself, but it makes me feel even better when people tell it to me.”
Candi is looking toward a future where she can share her photography and art with the world, and where she and Angelo can continue to beat the odds and thrive. “I’m more than just a teen mom,” says Candi. “I’m a good mother, and I love doing art, and I want to make other people happy, not just myself.”