Light at the end of the tunnel

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Ripple of One clients earns new van

 

January 6, 2018

 

By Justin Lee Campbell

 

Almon Robinson almost had to cancel her appointment to receive the title to her new van on Friday precisely because she lacked her own means of transportation.To complicate matters more, Robinson didn’t know she was getting the van, but rather thought she would be part of an informational video for Ripple of One. When Robinson called Ripple client manager Ray Raymer to tell her she might have to cancel, Raymer turned up the urgency.

“It’s a really important video,” Raymer recalled telling Robinson.So Robinson made arrangements and arrived at Ripple of One offices at Seneca Presbyterian Church on time at 11 a.m. And a few minutes later, Robinson opened a manila folder to fill out a questionnaire only to find the title to her new van.

 

The gravity of what was happening took a few seconds to hit her.

“I felt relief when I realized the title was mine,” Robinson said after checking out her white 2002 Honda Odyssey in the parking lot across the street. “Knowing I don’t have to wait on anybody anymore to take me anywhere I need to go on time and be able to do stuff I need to do and want to do is a great feeling,” she said.

Ripple of One, an initiative of Oconee County United Way, is an organization dedicated to helping families gain independence and get off government assistance to meet their “God-given full potential,” according to Raymer. Ripple awarded the van to Robinson on Friday as part of the organization’s Driven to Work program. Robinson had to write an essay on why she deserved a car and stick to a budget that she and financial coach Buddy Hardee made for three consecutive months, according to Raymer. “Almon has been really disciplined,” Raymer said. “Her financial coach said yesterday he doesn’t have to worry about her because she’s so on top of things. He joked that she should take care of his budget.”

After her acceptance into Ripple of One in July, Robinson earned her high school diploma in three months, moved into her own place and secured a paid internship as a resident care partner at Keowee Place retirement community. Raymer said Robinson’s diploma completion time is “one of the quickest” that she’s seen. Robinson dropped out of high school about six years ago when she was 16. “Almon has been grinding so hard to make sure she was doing what she needed to do to get independence,” Raymer said. “Her confidence has skyrocketed by empowering herself.”

And earning the van through the Driven to Work program is just another way Robinson has fostered self-reliance. Robinson wrote in her essay that a new car would help her accomplish her goal of becoming a registered nurse by taking classes at Tri-County Technical College. “Having a Driven to Work car can help me accomplish getting places on time,” she wrote. Robinson has already signed up for Tri-County Tech’s summer session. The car also provides a way for Robinson to enjoy spending time with her three children. She hasn’t really been able to go anywhere with her kids without her own car. “Sitting in the house everyday already as a single parent staring at walls and my kids being bored—this car could change a lot of that,” Robinson said. “We would be able to go out together as a family at any time.”

Robinson said on Friday she would ask her oldest child, 6-year-old A’Raven, what she would like to do with her two siblings A’Raven and Honesti and her mother now that they have their own car. “She’s so excited,” Robinson said. “We’ll see what she wants to do.”

almon_and_cathy.jpgRobinson’s Ripple mentor Cathy Poirier joined Robinson in checking out her new van in the parking lot. Poirier, a volunteer for Ripple, stood on her tiptoes and peered over Robinson’s shoulders into the van. Robinson and Poirier have become really good friends since Robinson joined Ripple in July. Poirier believes Robinson is a “fantastic” mother whose main focus is her children. “It’s a wonderful bonding, family friendship,” Poirier said. “We can depend on each other.” Robinson admitted that she wasn’t sure what to think about Poirier when they first met since they didn’t know each other yet. But after a while, Robinson began having that same family feeling that Poirier did. “My son doesn’t go to anybody and cries if someone picks him up, but I feel like Cathy was more of a mentor to him than me,” Robinson said with a laugh. “When he saw Cathy, he would get happy and jump up and down.”

The Ripple of One staff has motivated Robinson and encouraged her to keep striving toward her goals. Just some of the goals that Robinson has accomplished are saving $2,800, become a certified nursing assistance, lose 35 pounds and learn how to create relationship boundaries. “The staff are not just people but more like family,” Robinson said. “They motivate you to do stuff. When I’ve said, ‘Oh, I just want to give up,’ they wouldn’t let me. I’d say, ‘I’m going to quit,’ and Ray would say, ‘There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.’”