I have heard so many wonderful stories from people I meet at Bona Vista, from clients we serve to families we work with. Perhaps one of the most moving encounters I have to share is from one of our own staff members, Racheal Lisby.
In 2010, Lisby was a young mother of two, Rory and Abby. The three of them were homeless and living at Open Arms. She had enrolled Abby in Early Head Start at Bona Vista and then found out she was expecting her third child, Zackary. While pregnant, Lisby began using the prenatal services offered through Bona Vista as well.
Lisby worked closely with Bona Vista’s prenatal specialist at the time, Becky Ashenfelter. The prenatal service provided guidance in setting and reaching goals collectively for both herself and her growing family. Becky became a close confidant and maternal figure in Lisby's life, leading her to eventually recommend Lisby get involved with Habitat for Humanity. The waitlist was long, and the requirements seemed too demanding at first. Because of Becky’s persistent push, Lisby eventually began the application process. One of the requirements in the Habitat for Humanity process includes volunteer hours. An applicant must fulfill a required number of hours volunteering for the organization before they are qualified to become a homeowner. Lisby nearly doubled the volunteer hour requirement and, eventually, was able to own a home of her own through the program.
Once Zackary was born, Lisby enrolled him in Early Head Start at Bona Vista also. Shortly after she began her time with Bona Vista as a parent, she also secured employment in the early childhood services program as a substitute teacher. She progressed to an assistant teacher, lead teacher, and home visitor for the program. While attending an early childhood conference, she learned about a position that some agencies offer as an additional resource to the families that they serve. Lisby brought this idea back to Bona Vista and worked with the management team to put it into action for our program. Thus, the promotion to her current position as a family advocate was born.
Lisby's story is one of difficult experiences and amazing growth. Fast forward to today, 11 years after her first encounter with Bona Vista as a parent, to see the resilience she has demonstrated throughout her journey. She has been a homeowner for six years, volunteers as a Habitat for Humanity ambassador, has purchased the empty property next to her home, and has recently started working with a contractor to add two additional rooms onto her house. She works full time in her current position at Bona Vista and part time in our supported living department.
“My experiences keep me humble and also allow me to connect on a much more realistic level with the families I work with now,” said Lisby.
She can speak to the experience with Bona Vista from the perspective of a parent, prenatal client, and a staff member. She is one of our biggest cheerleaders and advocates for our programs and services. However, Bona Vista is the lucky one in the relationship. We are fortunate and thankful that Lisby trusted us with her children, invested in us with her employment, and brought us along for her journey of personal growth and accomplishment.
If you would like to learn more about the services mentioned or are interested in joining our team, please visit bonavista.org or call 765-454-8273.