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Courage is putting values into action

2023 Community Courage Award Recipient Lynette Stewart

From Homeless to College Student: Community Courage Award Recipient Lynette Stewart
Posted on Category General, Stories

Every year at our signature Step Up Marin! event, we honor a Community Courage Award recipient. This is someone who has put their values into action for greater life success. Recipients must use the agency’s services and nominations each year come from the team of Success Coaches at Community Action Marin who are providing frontline support.  Explains Chandra Alexandre, CEO, Community Action Marin:  

“Our Community Courage Award celebrates individuals who have stepped into their courage from a place of commitment and willingness to believe in their own ability to be in service to what they need for themselves and their families. They role model dignity and respect in action. They have led the way in partnership with our staff to earn their own way forward, and this award brings recognition to their tremendous effort and belief in what’s possible.”  

This year’s Courage Award recipient, Lynette Stewart, first came to Community Action Marin in August 2022. Our Community Alternative Response Engagement (CARE) Team had received a referral from a community member that a mother and her son lived in their car. One of the members from our CARE Team went out to meet Lynette in a parking lot in Marin City, and we began working with her to access COVID-19 funds to help fix her car, get referrals for housing services, CalWORKs, and other needs. 

Lynette shared some of her own story at our Step Up Marin! event in May 2023: 

“I moved to Marin when my youngest son was approaching three years of age so I could get him into a good school. My oldest son was off to college at Long Beach State, and I wanted my younger son to have a better life and a better education. 

Here in Marin, I got a job and a car, and I found myself needing childcare for the first few months, which was $1,500 per month. I needed help, so I contacted Community Action Marin, and they offered me subsidized childcare. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was laid off from my job in San Rafael.  

I went from having a job and a great home to a very unstable situation. I decided to leave my relationship which had become unhealthy, so I packed up my things, and that’s how I found myself in Marin City living in my car with my son, in a church parking lot where I felt safe. 

It was at that point that I met the Community Action Marin CARE Team. They helped me apply to the County of Marin Health and Human Services for temporary hotel assistance. That lasted for sixteen days and I was put into a family stabilization program. From there, I interviewed for Gilead House where Quincy and I are currently living.” 

Lynette later joined our A Road to Self-Sufficiency Workforce Accelerator program to focus on training and employment. As she explained, 

“The next thing I needed was employment and I learned about Community Action Marin’s workforce development programs…six months later, I now have a plan for my career and my own personal goals. In December 2022, I enrolled at the College of Marin in their Medical Assistant Certificate Program. 

At the end of this year, I will have my certificate which I’m very excited about that. Finally, I have gone back to college after raising one child and now raising another.” 

Shares Erika Acosta, Workforce Development Coordinator, Community Action Marin: 

“I worked with Lynette to make sure our services were supporting her education, training and employment goals. Lynette has shown great strength, resiliency and persistence, and she has overcome significant barriers that previously prevented her from reaching her full potential.  

Hearing Lynette’s story, people feel inspired by what is possible when we open doors of opportunity and seek greatness in each person. Says Lynette, “Every time I step in the door at Community Action Marin, I’m treated like a human being, like I matter. That’s exactly what people need. They’re in your corner.” 

Learn more about our Workforce Development programs. 

Donate today to help provide the tools and support so people like Lynette can not only meet their basic needs but can also fully support themselves and each other on the road to self-sufficiency.