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New Dreams

Victoria Zambrana Caliz graduated from The Caring Place's  Case Management program this past summer.

After the death of her grandfather, Victoria knew she needed a new path for her life, one that would give her life meaning after his passing. She packed up and moved to Texas with a job lead.

Initially, Victoria stayed with a friend who lined up employment for her, but the job fell through. When Victoria discovered her move was not going as she’d hoped, she proactively reached out to every organization she heard about to get help and plan her next step. Victoria learned there are a lot of organizations that can help, but it was important to know which one to go to for what purpose. The system in place to help is broad and often complicated. She admittedly said about her search for help, “I was all over the place.” This is understandable when you are desperate to achieve something but you don’t know where to start.

Thankfully, The Caring Place was on her list of places to call. She enrolled in the Case Management program which is designed to help clients meet self-identified goals to improve their quality of life. Shortly after starting the 

program, Victoria learned it was critical for her to travel to Puerto Rico to visit family. The Caring Place’s response? “We will be here when you get back.” And we were.

The moment Victoria returned to Texas, she called Case Manager Dulce Ramirez at The Caring Place and said she was ready to get started. What was Victoria’s initial goal? To get a job. For Victoria, a job search felt impossible. She didn’t have the means to buy work clothes or even access to reliable transportation to attend an interview. The Caring Place could help with clothes, but due to a lack of reliable transportation from her friend’s house in a rural area, job opportunities just weren't sustainable.

Concerns about her living situation with her friend pushed Victoria to broaden her goal. She needed to find a place to live independently that was closer to jobs and medical attention in case of an emergency. Her distance and lack of transportation made her feel disconnected and unable to take care of herself.

When Victoria shared her updated goals with The Caring Place, Dulce helped Victoria put those goals into action. She showed her which organizations she should call for specific services. “Each time Dulce suggested ‘fill out this form and turn it in here,’ I did it. Or call this number. I did everything she recommended immediately. She kept me focused.” Working with The Caring Place kept Victoria from feeling lost in the process.

As all this was going on behind the scenes, Victoria got a call from family that her teen son in Puerto Rico would be moving in with her immediately. This news meant she needed to speed up the process to find a place of her own. Victoria had already secured a full-time job at McAlister’s Deli the old-fashioned way, pounding the pavement in the Wolf Ranch Town Center. She was dropped off in Wolf Ranch by her friend, found a phone number to text for an interview and scheduled an interview the same day. She then walked to The Caring Place to get some clothes to wear for the interview and walked back to McAlister’s Deli for her interview, where she was hired on the spot. Victoria’s story includes a few good Samaritans beyond The Caring Place that truly will make your heart sing. Managers at McAlister’s Deli helped her buy work shoes, arranged travel for her son to live with her, gave her rides to and from work, and gave her son a job, too. This illustrates the type of person Victoria is, personable and hard-working. She makes friends wherever she goes. We also aren’t surprised people gave her a helping hand because we know that kind folks live and work in Georgetown.

Victoria credits her son for inspiring her motivation and purpose. She knew she needed a job and a place to live for him. Dulce called Victoria when she found a local apartment manager that would work with her. Victoria couldn’t believe it. With the help of The Caring Place and St. Vincent de Paul, the two non-profits helped Victoria with security deposits and the first month’s rent. The Caring Place also helped with utilities, food, clothes and toiletries to get her on her feet. The Caring Place introduced her to GoGeo bus transportation so she could travel around the local community on her own, too. She said, “I called Dulce and told her the bus stops right at my new apartment! It was such a relief.” Access to affordable transportation had become such an obstacle to Victoria reaching goals. A small thing like a convenient bus stop was a source of joy.

Case Management goes beyond a temporary financial fix. The Caring Place partners with neighbors to find long-term solutions. For Victoria the process began in that initial goal setting and planning stage with her Case Manager, Dulce. Next came action items like getting a job, finding a place to live, learning transportation options, talking about budget and living within that budget. Discussions included: What is the difference between a want and need? How much money do you need to cover critical expenses? What resources are in the community that can help cover basic needs like food so that you can stretch your budget? Victoria distinctly remembers a conversation about wanting to buy her son something at the store, and learning to say no to certain unnecessary items as she was getting settled. Now, she’s had some time to save and recently purchased her very first game console. Victoria was proud to be able to make a purchase like this. “It may not seem significant to other people, but to buy something myself was important.” Dulce interjected, “It was in her budget. She had done a lot of work to get to this point and was ready for a reward.” Victoria added, “Looking at Dulce’s computer screen, seeing checkmarks on goals we set just a few months ago, felt so good.”

Victoria shared about Dulce, “I love her. She’s done a lot. This program helped me feel good about myself, built up my confidence, helped me learn to budget, taught me how to move around the community without a car, and taught me how to navigate services by teaching me who to ask, when to ask and what to ask. If I did this by myself, I wouldn’t be where I am.” Victoria recognized that so many of the small bumps along the way would have been large setbacks if it hadn’t been for The Caring Place giving her a safety net.

Dulce feels like a big part of her job is to empower neighbors. “I let them know they can do it, and I guide them along the way. Victoria had an eagerness to be proactive, so meeting goals was relatively smooth. I am so proud of her. Working with Victoria made it clear what my purpose was, to help others.” Victoria urges folks that need help to call The Caring Place. She says, “You are in the right place. They will help you, you just have to listen and follow through.” Victoria emphasizes the “follow through” part of that statement. She knew it was up to her to take the information and tools she received along the way to make positive change in her life and to stay the course. Victoria ended her interview with, “I feel very good about my future. I am on the right path, I know where I am going, and I know where to go if I need support. I plan on going back to school and making something out of me.”



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