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Single Mother Gains Marketable Skills and Rebuilds Faith

November 2016

Lesa

Born and raised in California, Lesa Eastes found tremendous joy in raising her six children and four stepchildren. Then, without warning, her world shattered, and she fled to Utah with her two youngest children in tow. “I escaped a bad divorce. I had my autistic son and daughter to protect,” recalls Lesa. Almost overnight the 50-something stay-at-home mom found herself at the mercy of family, friends, and strangers. “I had nothing—no home, no money, no health insurance. Nothing,” she remembers.

But what the suddenly single mother did have was drive, determination, and faith. Having attended a number of colleges on and off during her life, Lesa knew she needed to get the academic training and skillset needed to provide for her children. “I was having significant health issues and attending college,” says Lesa. “Eventually my health problems resolved, and I earned a BA in business administration.”

Despite her best efforts, Lesa struggled to find a good job. “After a couple of moves—including living with my mom—and a few job changes, I knew it was time to talk to my bishop,” she says. After counseling together, both agreed that Lesa needed to go back to school and upgrade her skills. She had always enjoyed the field of law, so she searched online and found that Salt Lake Community College was the only local institution that offered a paralegal program. “I was ready to enroll when my bishop called me into his office and showed me a flyer that had crossed his desk,” Lesa says. “It was from LDS Business College, touting its paralegal program and single-parent scholarship fund. I applied in December 2014 and started the paralegal program in January 2015.”

Lesa knows that she would not have been able to make the transition from working mother to college student without the help of donors. “Attending LDSBC and receiving the single-parent scholarship has been the greatest blessing at this point in my life,” she says. “To go to school without worrying about the financial element is a wonderful blessing. Words will never adequately express my appreciation to the donors who have sacrificed in order to help me improve my life and the lives of my children. Generous donors have put me in a position where I can support myself and my children, where we can be self-reliant.”

Lesa says her new skills have provided a way for her to never rely on state aid again. “Before attending LDSBC I had to go on state aid, mostly in the form of food stamps and medical benefits. I do not see that this type of charity will ever be in my life again,” she says. “It was humiliating—necessary to take care of my children—but humiliating to be in a situation where I had to go and ask for someone to support me. I wanted to be self-sufficient. Because of the spiritual and career training I received at LDSBC, I know now that I will be self-sufficient.”

Lesa says another benefit of her training is the stability it will provide for her family: “We have moved a lot since coming to Utah, living with family and friends. I am in a position to provide my children with a stable environment. We can now afford to have our own home, and I can give my children many of the same opportunities their friends enjoy. I have found our future, and there’s no looking back.”