|HAC's Jan Nelson (left) with Janice Jones.
Success means different things to different people. For West Barnstable’s Janice Jones, it will one day mean becoming a homeowner. “There is something about owning a home that makes me feel like I accomplished something good,” she said.
Jones is not there yet, but the goal is within reach thanks to the assistance of HAC. Jones is currently enrolled in the agency’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program which provides incentives for those receiving federal housing subsidies to build their financial assets. Participants do so by increasing their earned income, which is then placed into an escrow account that they can access upon graduating from the program to use as they see fit, including education, starting a small business or purchasing a home.
The 49-year-old Jones has been in the FSS program for a little over a year, balancing that with a job as a lead preschool teacher at the YMCA Cape Cod in Barnstable, raising her 12-year-old son Marcus and taking online classes at the University of Massachusetts Amherst towards a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
Jan Nelson, HAC’s FSS coordinator, has been so impressed with Jones’ work ethic that she nominated her for a One Family Scholarship. In the application, Nelson highlighted Jones’ ability as a single mother to juggle her work and family obligations, all while spending three years earning her associate’s degree from Eastern Nazarene College where she graduated summa cum laude.
The One Family Scholarship is given to low-income single parents, providing them with the financial support necessary to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In August, Jones was notified that she was one of 17 applicants chosen as a scholar, attending a reception in Boston where they were each given a laptop to use as part of their college studies. “I cried,” Jones admitted. “It was so awesome.”
Along with a Federal Pell Grant, Jones will use the scholarship to cover her college costs.
The scholarship is just one source of motivation for Jones as she sets her sights on eventually graduating college and owning a home on Cape Cod, where she has lived for the past 13 years. Her son Marcus – she has two adult children, Candice, 30, and Derrick, 21 – is another motivating factor for her. “I want to show my son it can be done,” she said. “I want him to be proud of me.”
Since last year, HAC’s Nelson has been helping Jones in her journey. “She is always there when I need her,” Jones said of Nelson. “She’s just been a really good support system for me.”
It’s a support system she will continue to rely on as she moves closer to reaching her goals. “I’ve always wanted to own a home and it seems more reachable now,” she said.