Michelle Kaczmarek

“If there is anything in this world you want, fight for it! Your diligence will pay off in the end, but only YOU can make yourself into greatness and overcome the obstacles in your way. The choices you make in your life are yours, so dream big and reach high. After all, this is your life and you only live it once, so make it count!”

I live in Omaha, NE with my husband and four amazing children ages 18, 13, 10, and 7. I currently work 24 hours a week at a distributing company. I am also studying for my MBA. I’m an active PTA member at two schools and a volunteer flag football coach for my 10 year old son’s YMCA team. I’m a busy woman!

It’s been a long, hard and painful road for me. In 2004, my three boys were removed from my home because of my drug addiction to methamphetamines (both my husband and I). During that year, I made some life changes. I attended chemical dependency counseling for a year, took coping classes, parenting classes, paid for my own drug tests and went to crystal meth anonymous meetings. I realized eventually that I was a good mom, but not the best mom that I could be and my children deserved much more. In December 2004, I became pregnant with my fourth child and this really made me take another hard look at my life.

My boys were placed back in my care in May 2005. This was, by far, the happiest day of my life, however, personal changes were still necessary to benefit not only me, but my four children too. I pondered going back to school, but was not sure how it would affect my new born daughter. So I waited until she was seven months before I took action. My in-home therapist that I saw once a week was my support system assisting me through the college enrollment process. I began classes in October 2006 and graduated with high honors and an associate degree in 2008. After a 6-month hiatus, I jumped into earning my bachelors and graduated Magna Cum Laude in March 2010. I took another year off before pursuing my MBA. My goal is to graduate Summa Cum Laude and I’m well on my way to achieving this goal.

These life changes and time demands were the impetus for my next steps toward obtaining a reliable vehicle. I was making payments on a van that was in my dad’s name which wasn’t helping my credit score. He filed bankruptcy and I was afraid of losing the van. I knew I had to do something, so I reached out to Jenny at the Ways to Work program after reading their small newspaper ad. At first I thought, “this is too good to be true”. I was sure they would find a reason not to help me get a vehicle. I figured the worst they could do was tell me no. The interviewing process was lengthy and time consuming, but well worth it. Jenny talked to me about ways to save money, cut down on expenses, the power of budgeting, and the importance of putting money away for rainy days. I ended up being approved for the highest loan amount ($6000.00). Jenny told me that I was the first recipient at her agency to be approved for this amount! I was so happy and could feel the burden of my van lifting each day that I shopped for a new vehicle.

Since purchasing my 2003 Ford Explorer, I have paid off quite a few debts including a ton of old doctor bills and have seen a significant improvement in my credit score. None of this would have been possible without the help from Jenny and the Ways to Work program. This program gave me insight into my credit history, showed me the importance of maintaining a good credit score, taught me how to budget and save money, and gave me hope for my future and my children’s future. It has also given me the tools to stay on track and be diligent about making timely payments. However, the most important thing to me is that my children see you can have everything you want out of life if you set goals – no matter how big or small they may be.