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Moving to the top of the class

If she could, Jeannie Dimacali says she would hug all of Neighborhood House’s donors.

“And I’d thank them all so much for giving people like me a chance to succeed despite our stories and circumstances.”

Life has improved dramatically for Jeannie over the past year since finding help with Neighborhood House. The native Washingtonian had been working odd jobs and living with friends and had become severely depressed after the passing of her grandfather in 2011.

“After he passed away, it was mentally and physically tough to go to school, but after working with Neighborhood House and Cindy Holland, I didn't only receive great grades, but my work in long term care and focusing on my studies was what I was really striving for.”

With additional moral support from her boyfriend, Vuong, the 21-year-old threw herself fully into her studies while also working full time.

She also credits so much of her drive and success to her “mentor,” Cindy Holland, employment supervisor at Greenbridge-Wiley Center.

“With Cindy’s guidance and endless support, I have been blessed to receive resume assistance, job searching skills, interview skills, and financial assistance,” she says. “I think that everyone should have their own Cindy Holland. She has helped me and pushed me ever since I met her. She works so hard just to make sure that you're being the best you can be. Cindy has been supportive in every aspect of my life. She has provided me with the resources to be at the top of my nursing assistant class and gave me the support I needed when I began my life as a working nursing assistant. She helped me with my interview for Harborview. She is such a beautiful person inside and out. Without Neighborhood House, I wouldn't have met Cindy.”

Her mentor isn’t too surprised at how much she’s accomplished in such a short time.

“She always stays positive, even when things get tough,” says Cindy.  “She is motivated and determined to complete her education to become a nurse and she is a really hard worker.”

With her tuition, books and supplies, and transportation costs covered by Neighborhood House, she’s freed up to really focus on what matters in life.

“I am constantly finding new things around me and craving to learn and help others as much as I can,” says Jeannie. “I've learned many new concepts and ideas that I believe all college students, no matter where they are, should have the opportunity to access.”

She’s now half-way there, and working in the operating room at Harborview Medical Center as a hospital assistant. In March 2016 she’ll have completed all of her nursing prerequisites at South Seattle College and will begin working toward her bachelor of science in nursing at the University of Washington.  

“As I get older, I start to realize that it's necessary to cut out the problems, and even the people, that either don't help me improve as a person or have a negative impact on me. I think it's very important to focus on what you love, who you love, and the ones who support you unconditionally. If you find something you're good at and are passionate about, the ones who support you will follow.”

But she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and always makes time to go to the gym, where this petite dynamo can easily squat 250 pounds.

What advice does she have for others facing similar struggles?

“You just need to work hard and want it! If you're dealing with any sort of mental illness or need support, there is always someone at Neighborhood House that will listen and genuinely care. Just remember that it will be a bumpy road, but that just makes the ride that much more fun in the end.”