Rachelle Semper moved to York looking for a fresh start. Although she had worked at a youth drop-in center in Bradford County, she had recently given birth to her daughter and was committed to focusing on her new role as a mother.
“It was really hectic,” she admits. “I moved over 3 hours away, I was 22 then. There was a lot going on.”
She applied for food stamps, and connected with Community Progress Council because she was familiar with Head Start, and a friend had mentioned the Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) program.
She moved a few times, but stayed connected to Community Progress Council.
“What’s nice is there are locations throughout York County,” Rachelle said. “You get to know some faces that are in the community.”
Over a few years, she got married, and had a son. In 2020, she made the decision to leave her husband, and start over again. The change was big — Rachelle didn’t work, and she didn’t have her driver’s license, so she didn’t drive.
Community Progress Council was there to support her as she faced these new challenges. She was connected with Getting Ahead in A Just-Gettin’-By World, a CPC program where participants investigate how poverty affects their lives and their communities.
Although she wasn’t sure about the program initially, it provided gift cards for participants that she knew could help with household goods. Through the program and the encouragement of the Getting Ahead facilitators, Rachelle achieved her first goal: She got her driver’s license. Despite her anxiety, the program provided the motivation and the tools for Rachelle to move outside her comfort zone.
Building on this progress, Rachelle worked closely with a Workforce Development coach at Community Progress Council to complete online training and study for her real estate license. CPC helped to cover the cost of the online classes, relieving the financial burden as Rachelle worked toward her goals.
“People haven’t gone through things and don’t have a concept of what it means to be poor,” Rachelle said. “People are like ‘Why don’t you just get another job?’ Well, my ex was working five jobs and we still weren’t making it.”
Pursuing her real estate license gives her the flexibility she wanted with her children, but she also chose her path based on what she calls a “heart reason.”
“I had a home, but I didn’t feel stable growing up,” Rachelle said. “It’s a nice feeling to say, ‘Hey, I have something I was able to purchase.’ Something of my own. I want to be able to share that with other people.”
Through Community Progress Council’s homebuyer education classes, she learned more about the field, and even connected with a Realtor who now serves as her mentor. In the past three years, Rachelle has purchased her own home, completed her classes, and passed the state and national licensing exams.
Her coaches through CPC have continued to provide perspective, support, and encouragement, and Rachelle finds strength in her sense of purpose.
“When I first moved [to York], I felt very lost,” Rachelle said. “If I hadn’t known about CPC or any of this, I’d probably still be at home without a driver’s license.”
“CPC is definitely a ‘hand up’ agency, pushing your clients to become more independent and self-sufficient,” she said. “You’re helping families not stay where they’re at.”
Rachelle balances her optimism with a realistic approach. She knows it will take time to develop her client base as a real estate agent. And although she knows she’s doing better financially, she admits it doesn’t always feel that way.
“There are times when I get knocked down, and I don’t really want to get back up,” Rachelle said. “But at the end of the day, it’s not A to B, it’s all the squiggles in between.”
“There is hope, regardless of where you’re starting from.”