Jennifer's Story -- A Life Makeover through United Way of the Columbia-Willamette

Jennifer Pierce was eight years old the first time she witnessed a drug raid at her house. It was not the last time.

"Growing up, I never had a chance to learn normal life skills,” Pierce said. Her time in and out of foster care and two teen pregnancies translated into a life of poverty and a struggle to control her own substance use.

Pierce was living in her car with her two young sons when her life changed.

"I lost my children to child protection services and I resolved to do whatever it would take to get them back,” Pierce said. “My case worker introduced me to Second Step Housing and it was like a door opened. They taught me how to do normal things people know how to do – open a bank account, pay my bills, take care of my kids.”

This October, Pierce, along with fellow Second Step Housing participants Charlene Burrell and Jordan Munday were the recipients of a makeover during Vancouver’s annual Step Into Fashion event - an auction, dinner and fashion show benefiting United Way’s funded partner Second Step Housing.

The makeover award included a newly donated wardrobe from Camas boutique Lily Atelier and Ridgefield-based Agave Denim, but it also highlighted the internal transformation these three recipients worked so very hard to achieve. As all three courageously shared their stories and took a spin down the catwalk, the impact of Second Step Housing’s programs was apparent to all who attended. The confidence, life skills and newfound family unity that these three gained shone as brightly as their beautiful new clothes.

Second Step Housing is a funded program of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.