Je’Miah was raising her younger sister in 2013 when she lost her job and her home. However, she didn’t lose hope or her determination to get herself on the path to a better future. She moved in with her brother and took two jobs, working half days at a call center and nights in a restaurant kitchen – often finishing work around 1:00 a.m. Her days began at 7:00 a.m. because it took two hours on two buses to arrive at work on time. Despite little time left in her schedule for sleeping, she persisted. “I want my sister to look at me and realize that you can’t control what decisions your parents made and the things in your past, but you can live the life you want for yourself,” she says, “you have to believe you can do it.”
Je’Miah enrolled at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and a mentor connected her to the CityLink Center where a service coordinator introduced her to ChangingGears. She had never owned a car and getting one became a goal. “I realized I had some bad financial habits I had to change,” she explains. “This was the first time I actually looked at how I spent my money, and figured out how to set money aside and save it.”
The car ownership classes required at ChangingGears helped Je’Miah understand the added expenses of insurance and maintenance. By learning and saving, she was approved for a ChangingGears vehicle and in the spring of 2014 became the proud owner of a 2006 Ford Taurus.
With her own car, Je’Miah’s life turned in a completely new direction. Instead of spending four or more hours a day on a bus, she picked up extra shifts at the call center. Impressed with her commitment and reliability her supervisors promoted her, which allowed her to quit her night job and devote more hours to her college classes. She graduated with her associate’s degree and honors in the spring of 2017 and was offered a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. She’s now enrolled in a master’s/Ph.D. program with majors in anthropology and African Studies and a history minor, and future plans that include research, travel and nonprofit leadership.
“Having a car has opened doors for me,” says Je’Miah. “It may seem like just a car to the person who donates it, but it’s so much more. It can be a game-changer to the next person.”