Laurell’s Story: Residents Running Community Programs

My name is Laurell Uptegrove and I came to be with LifeLine CDC through the Welfare-To-Work program in March of 2013 as an Administrative Assistant. I didn’t know anything about LifeLine CDC except that it was a non-profit organization that helped communities, the main office was in Merced, and that there was a LifeLine Community Center in Winton. When Monika explained the reason behind LifeLine CDC and what it stands for, I realized I would fit in perfectly.

Up until 3 years ago, I was homeless, a drug addict, and had no job skills, but through the help of friends, family and a strong determination to change, my husband and I got off the drugs, got custody of our son back, and moved into a house. I was able to go to school through a ROP program to learn new office technology skills and accounting skills and started job searching. I had a hard time finding an employer that was willing to take the chance on me even with the skills that I had learned in school and during internships. After completing the Job Search Club through HSA, my worker placed me on a work site: LifeLine CDC.

I love that LifeLine CDC is about a “hand-up” and not a “hand-out” type of program and that they look for the “good” instead of the “bad” in people and their communities. LifeLine CDC helps community connectors explore their neighborhood to discover what resources God has placed there, together they find what people care about and mobilize resources for use, promote community by having community events, facilitate people who need the resources,empower people to learn and use their skills, enlist community members, organizations, faith-based groups, and students to volunteer their time to help, and most of all, work together to combine all efforts throughout the county.

Since being with LifeLine CDC, I’ve learned about the amazing work that has been going on at the Community Center in the Meadows Apartments and at the Community Center in Winton due to community members and LifeLine CDC’s assistance. Without LifeLine CDC, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to help with the Summer Lunch Program at the Meadows Apartments this past summer and meet some of the wonderful kids (some gave me the nickname “lunchlady” since it was easier to say than my name☺) and their parents. I got to attend both LoveWinton Events and saw how much community members loved their town by volunteering to help clean up their neighborhoods. I’ve been part of the group that’s helped individuals with finding clothing on the Bus Boutique when the bus was part of the Homeless Connect Event, when the bus goes out to the O’Banion Center by the Housing Authority each month, and when somebody comes to the office needing clothing for job interviews or for everyday wear.

In the office, I help Monika with organizing documents, creating newsletters, answering phones, writing letters, compiling resources for the communities to use, and have attended meetings at the Public Health Department. Yesterday I went to the Meadows Community Center and helped Tunde for the first time with the kids working on their homework, coloring pictures, reading books, and playing some games with them; I’m looking forward to going back and helping out with craft time. I am so grateful to Monika for giving me the chance to be part of the LifeLine CDC team and to be one of the many who is giving back to the community by using the gifts that I have.


PS Laurell is now employed by LifeLine CDC

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