Siemer Institute for Family Stability Partners with United Way of the Mid-South to Change Lives

In partnership with The Siemer Institute for Family Stability, United Way of the Mid-South is Driving The Dream of Financial Stability. 

An estimated 160 families sleep on Memphis streets or in shelters every night. Shelby County Schools defines homelessness as sharing housing of other persons, living in motels or hotels, or living in emergency or transitional shelters. United Way of the Mid-South and The Siemer Institute for Family Stability are partnering by supporting local non-profits and organizations committed to reducing housing insecurity


Tonya lost her job of 3 years, working for a cleaning company. Soon, she and her 3 girls were in danger of losing their utilities and having no place to live.

“It wasn’t what I would call a home, but at least it was a roof over our heads.”


Tonya describes her road over the past several years as “rocky.”

“Most days I feel like we are barely making it, but somehow we always do.”

When her daughters ask why they can’t have the things they want or why they don’t have a car, she tells them “everything comes in time, but now is just not the time.” More than anything she wants her girls to have a better life. Her oldest daughter wants to be a doctor, while her middle daughter has an interest in fashion. Tonya smiles – uncontrollably – when she shares that her “baby girl” wants to be a ballerina!

Tonya set a goal to become self-sufficient. She aspires to be a chef. “I love to prepare food that makes people happy… that makes me feel good.”

Tonya’s daughters were attending the Knowledge Quest Extended Learning Academy, and one day she learned about Knowledge Quest’s Family Stability Initiative (FSI) from a flyer and enrolled in the program.

Months later, Tonya showed up at FSI, beaming as she shared with the staff that her diligence and work had paid off – she had just been hired at the University of Memphis as a utility worker.

“This program helped me so much. It helped me build my confidence to go on job interviews.”

The once quiet and shy mom who rarely even spoke in parent trainings has a new-found confidence which helps her to keep reaching her goals. She shared one final thing that she gained from the program: “FSI has taught me how to smile again!”

So what does Tonya feel her future looks like now? “I think it looks good because I will never give up! I want to own a home, I want to have my own car, I want to be stable financially and not worry all the time about how the bills will get paid. I want our lives to be stable!”

FSI is one of Knowledge Quest’s four flagship programs serving the South Memphis community, which is one of the highest poverty zip code areas in the country. FSI helps stabilize families and prevents homelessness by addressing a family’s basic needs related to food, clothing, and housing. FSI provides an array of wraparound services including life skills and parenting classes, individual and group counseling, and assistance with job search.

Tonya has a new, positive attitude and goals thanks to Knowledge Quest’s Family Stability Program: “I will never give up! I want to own a home, have my own car, be stable financially and not worry all the time about the bills. I want our lives to be stable!”



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