Ana Chavez is beaming with excitement. After months of being “lazy”, as she puts it, her son Zacharia took his first step on Martin Luther King Day, at 14 months.
“I was so happy. I was very quiet because I didn’t want to distract him and make him fall.”
Little Zach is Ana’s everything. She is delighted to be able to offer him a bright future, thanks to a door that opened in 2016.
Noticing Ana’s commitment to breastfeeding her baby and her high level of education – a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Trinity University in Washington DC – Ana’s breastfeeding counselor at Mary’s Center told the WIC Director that Ana would be perfect for the other breastfeeding counselor position she was looking to fill.
Ana, who had been working as a manager at a Subway restaurant, was delighted about the opportunity and was hired in August 2016. Since then she has been helping new moms learn how to breastfeed, showing them the right latching position, for example, and addressing their concerns.
At the restaurant, Ana received an hourly wage. At Mary’s Center she now has a salary and knows exactly how much she will be earning each month. When her son is sick, she can take time off and still be paid, which was not the case at the restaurant. She has financial stability and has been able to achieve some big goals.
“I used to live in a basement, but now I have moved to a new apartment. There’s more space, which Zach really needed.” She has also bought a new car, which helps her to get to Mary’s Center’s multiple sites.”
“My Director says I am doing a great job, that I do more than is required, and that she appreciates my flexibility. Wherever she needs me to go, I go. ”
Ana’s next goal is to buy a house in 2018. She says that even with rent and car payments, she can save something every month towards her down payment.
Ana can see herself working at Mary’s Center for a long time because it’s an opportunity for her to give back to the organization, which has given her so much, from the time she was a member of the Mary’s Center Teen Program.
“I love Mary’s Center and I love helping people,” she says enthusiastically.