My name is Christina Simmons and aside from being a wife to a former U.S. Marine and mother of an inquisitive and free-spirited seven-year-old boy, I am also a woman who has had to overcome my fair share of challenges in life.
Years ago, when my husband Lloyd joined the Marine Corps and was deployed overseas for the very first time, I immediately buried myself in work – foolishly believing that the busier I was, the less worried I’d be about his safety. But I still couldn’t help but wonder when, or even if, I would get to see him again.
I made the tough decision to give up my job at Kinecta Federal Credit Union and move to Camp Pendleton so my husband and I could start a family. But the joy of welcoming little Joshua into the world soon gave way to much harder times. Lloyd was deployed twice more and while he was away, I was basically a single mother doing everything on my own.
Back then, we were living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to feed our small family. Money was so tight that I’d often give him heavier portions at dinner, claiming I was full and then secretly eating a bowl of cereal after he went to sleep.
Once we returned home to Culver City, it was extremely difficult to find work. I even tried going back to the credit union, but because of the recession, they were no longer hiring.
The Bankworks program at United Way partner, Jewish Vocational Services, couldn’t have come at a better time. It offers training in the fundamentals of banking, builds your confidence and really brings out the best in you. Within two days of graduating, I received three job offers and happily accepted a position at US Bank!
Lloyd and I are slowly catching up on bills and things are finally returning to normal. My dream is for us to build stable careers which not only allow us to support ourselves but to send our son to college one day.
As a mother, there’s nothing I cherish more than being able to provide a brighter future for my family.
*Christina (second from left) is pictured here on her graduation day with husband Lloyd (second from right) and staff members from United Way and JVS.