The East Tennessee Collaborative (ETC) program meets people where they are and helps them achieve their goals. Whether participants want to advance their college degrees, pursue homeownership or start up their business, ETC is there to help. For some participants, the support they need is simply empowering them to take a small step that will make a huge impact on their life. For ETC participant, Nataya, it was one of these small steps that changed her life. 

As a single, working mom and full-time Cosmetology student, Nataya has struggled to make ends meet for her family. One of her biggest challenges has been finding transportation without having her license or a car. Without reliable transportation and a driver’s license, stability and self-sufficiency felt out of reach.

Nataya lives her life with hope and determination to succeed. No matter what challenges life has thrown at her, she has persevered and kept moving forward with grace and optimism. She joined ETC to get help on her journey to build a brighter future for her family. Nataya emphasized, “I have a little girl. She’s watching me and learning from what I do. I can’t give up when things get hard. I have to keep moving and keep striving for better.”

Meeting her ETC mentor was a turning point in Nataya’s life. At their first meeting, they sat down together and talked about goal-setting. Nataya remarked, “If you don’t set a goal, you’re just running in place. You’re doing stuff without really trying to get anywhere.” For Nataya, the first goal she wanted to accomplish was getting her drivers license and buying a car. 

Together, they prepared Nataya for her drivers’ test and helped her secure an affordable car. Nataya passed her drivers’ test on her first try and discovered newfound freedom and independence. After that, she worked with her mentor to set more goals, including finding affordable, safe housing, getting a job in her field after graduation and more.

Nataya expressed gratitude for her mentor’s unwavering support, noting that her mentor’s encouragement and motivation have been instrumental in her progress. “She reminds me that no matter how old you are or what life throws at you, you can still get up and recreate the life you want for yourself and your family,” Nataya shared.

Throughout her journey, Nataya has learned the importance of using her voice and expressing herself, a lesson she is passing on to her daughter. She strives to create a better life for her daughter and is grateful for the joy and laughter her daughter brings into her life. Nataya’s resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit serve as an inspiration to those around her, reminding us all that it’s never too late to chase our dreams and create the life we want.

Click here to learn more about the program or apply today.