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 Cynthia and Hyacinth edited

“My life is like a tree. Everything is connected. If one branch breaks, another one will start to grow.”

Cynthia Willis, a mother and grandmother, has faced challenges in her life, but her faith keeps her optimistic that help is out there. And last year, in the midst of the pandemic, Cynthia and her 19-year-old daughter Hyacinth connected with Starbridge.

“Somebody came up with a great idea to meet at the Seneca Park pavilion. Whoever came up with that brilliant idea, it was awesome!”

Maritza Cubi, Family Support Service Program Coordinator, is the “somebody” who runs Starbridge’s Creating A Life after High School program. Normally held as an in-person, six-session series, presenters guide young adults and their families in developing a vision for their lives after school. Information about the many supports available for adults is also provided.

The restrictions of life during COVID-19 made it impossible to host Creating A Life in the usual way. So, Maritza got creative.

Creating A Life was transformed to a one-day event hosted in the open-air pavilion at Seneca Park, which allowed for safe distancing, masking, and plenty of fresh air. The content was adapted to be delivered in less time, but still provided the information that families and young adults find so valuable.

Cynthia says, “I loved the staff that presented because they themselves went through what I’m going through and that just blew my mind. I’ve got somebody to connect to, to make that foundation for Hyacinth. I know I’m not always going to be here so I’m going to have to make a platform for her to achieve.”

Maritza has led the program for a few years and sees how meaningful the experience is for families: “They have an opportunity to connect with others in a meaningful way while learning about opportunities to live, learn, earn and be part of our communities.”

Cynthia has nothing but praise for the team she and Hyacinth have, which includes Hyacinth’s sisters, LaShawnda and Hillary. And Cynthia is determined to share what she has learned with others in her life:

"Wow! I can help somebody with the information that I received with my child. Are you gonna say my child is not normal because she’s got these issues? I can’t even put my head around that. No, she just needs more time to grab this information. I will give out information as long as I receive it. I will not keep it just for my benefit. I’m gonna spread it.”