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April 2, 2013

Working their way up: Program bringing people out of poverty

NEW ALBANY — Upon her arrival in Louisville, she stepped off the Greyhound bus she boarded in Chicago with her children. She was 38, got involved with alcohol and had nowhere to go.

That was 14 years ago. Today, Lisa Donohue helps run the program that got her back on her feet. 

The Family Self-Sufficiency program with the New Albany Housing Authority helps the city’s public housing residents get their education and job skills to get them in their own homes.

“Basically, what we do is when families are in public housing and have hit rock bottom, we try to work with the head of the household, lay out goals and help them get back on their feet,” Donohue said.

Through various community partnerships, she said they’re able to reach out and help people from their cycles of poverty and other issues.

On Thursday, residents involved in the program heard from two people who overcame difficult circumstances — one whose story was much like Donohue’s and another who some see every day.

 

LIFTING SPIRITS

Kenny Boyd arrived in Louisville the same way as Donohue, also 14 years ago. He escaped Tennessee and a dangerous lifestyle that he feared would leave him either homeless, in prison or dead.

He said the place he left had him “strung out on dope” and got him caught in the middle of a shooting that nearly left him paralyzed. 

“I just want you to understand that it was a deep, dark nightmare,” Boyd said. “I didn’t know there was going to be a nightmare along the journey.”

Though Louisville wasn’t the place he thought he’d end up, he said the area changed his perspective on life. Seeing the campus of the University of Louisville inspired him to do something for himself.

At 30 years old, Boyd said he earned his high school diploma. He kept working and got a bachelor’s degree. Now a homeschool coordinator for Jefferson County Public Schools, Boyd is 30 hours away from earning his master’s.

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