Watch Drake's story on YouTube.
Drake Lynn, age 23, grew up in the foster care and social service system, where he lived in 6 different foster homes, 8 group homes, and spent nights on the street playing guitar. As a young adult, Drake experienced periods of homelessness and ill health, including a cancer diagnosis.
In August 2018, Drake was referred to SparkPoint Fremont by the City of Fremont's Mayor, Lily Mei. Currently, Drake meets monthly with Freddy Molina, his SparkPoint Fremont Financial Coach, to work on his financial and life goals. Since starting the SparkPoint Program, Drake has a job, got his driver’s license, owns a car, rents an apartment, and is pursuing a degree in Political Science at Ohlone College. Drake has entered a new chapter in his life and is more independent than ever before. In the future, Drake plans to run for office to impact the lives of foster youth to make a difference in their lives.
When Sandy was 18 years old, she immigrated to the United States from Mexico with her parents. She faced the struggles of learning a new language, culture, and making new friends. Although Sandy felt lost in the Bay area, she enrolled in an ESL course and learned English to help with her transition.
Years later, Sandy moved out of her parents’ home, got married, and started her own family. Her husband worked two jobs that provided more than enough for her family’s needs. Then, suddenly her husband left and Sandy became a single mother caring for two young children. She had no direction in life, felt miserable, and eventually lost her self-esteem and confidence.
Sandy applied for CalWORKs benefits and was connected to the FRC Working Wellness Team (formerly the FRC Family Service Team) which provided a multi-disciplinary approach to helping Sandy overcome barriers to employment. Sandy started working with a therapist, an employment counselor, and a SparkPoint financial coach. She felt the FST believed in her and gave her the support and motivation she needed. Then, the FST introduced Sandy to a training program that would change her life - BankWork$, a free, 8-week training program designed to prepare participants for a career in the banking industry.
Sandy was accepted into the BankWork$ program and learned the basics of the financial industry, bank products, regulations, as well as soft skills, dressing for the work environment, and interviewing techniques. What motivated Sandy the most was going on field trips with her classmates to local banks with her classmates, meeting bank employees, and asking lots of questions. After these field trips, she felt excited about her future profession and started regaining her confidence.
Sandy was selected by her classmates to be the student speaker representing them at the BankWork$ graduation ceremony. In her emotional and heartfelt speech, she shared her struggles of being a single mom raising two young children, how she felt depressed after her marriage ended, and how BankWork$ renewed her confidence and spirit.
Immediately after the graduation ceremony, the graduates interviewed with local banks who were onsite for the event. Wells Fargo hired Sandy as a Bank Teller and within three months she was promoted to a higher position as a Personal Banker. Sandy enjoys her job and loves sharing her success story with others.
“With the right resources, support system, and motivation, anything is possible. There are no boundaries in what we believe. I chose to believe in myself.”
Sandy is grateful for the support and guidance received from the FRC and FST teams and continues to work with the SparkPoint financial coach toward her goals.
Watch Jesse's story on YouTube.
A resident of Union City, California, Jessie Mendoza is a husband and a father to five children. For years Jessie struggled with consumer debt, a low credit score, and little to no savings. Working as a courier/driver for a few businesses, the opportunities for advancement were non-existent. Jessie was concerned about his debt, job opportunities, and his ability to provide for his family.
Jesse learned about SparkPoint services eight years ago in 2011 and visited the Fremont office to learn more about his credit report. Since that first day, Jesse has made progress and used many of the services SparkPoint Fremont offers. Jesse successfully participated in the first Peer Lending Circle, attended Money Smart and Credit 101 classes, used the free VITA tax service, and met with his coach to stay on track.
Even though SparkPoint helped Jesse improve his credit score and increase his savings, Jesse struggled with his lack of steady employment and knew he needed a plan. With that said, for more than eight years, Jesse and his wife had been cooking and catering on the side for family and friends, and Jesse had even completed Job Train’s Culinary Art program. His SparkPoint Financial Coach inspired Jesse to make this side job his primary focus.
With the encouragement and support of his coach, Jessie applied for a fictitious business name and a business license with the City of Fremont. In April 2019, Jesse Mendoza became the official small business owner of Tita’s Tacos, a mobile Mexican style catering company. With the money Jesse saved (working with his financial coach), Jesse invested in his business by purchasing safer equipment to meet city compliance standards. Finally, to increase business and as a convenience to customers, Jesse secured a Square payment device which allows merchants to accept mobile credit card payments.
Jesse had been catering for several years, but his big break came when the SparkPoint Fremont program needed a caterer for our client appreciation event. Tita’s Taco’s prepared meals for 70 people with rave reviews and attendees were impressed by Jesse’s story and how SparkPoint had had such a powerful and positive impact in his life. Additionally, Jesse was recognized at the SparkPoint Client Appreciation Event as a “Superstar”, for meeting his goals, dedication to the program, and starting his own small business.
Currently, Jesse is writing up a business plan with a financial coach allowing him to apply for a KIVA loan to help scale his business.