Helping Immigrants Like Juana Achieve Big Dreams

Helping Immigrants in Iowa

Pictured above: Juana with baby Fernanda, son Angel and Berenice Reyes, EveryStep case manager.

Coming to the U.S. from Mexico, Juana had big dreams. With a little help for immigrants like her, Juana is achieving her goals.

"EveryStep offered me a lot of services for me and my son, Angel. Through [EveryStep’s] Stork Nest, I received a lot of things that I need, like diapers and a crib.”

Nine years ago, at the age of 13, Juana made her way to Iowa with two goals in mind: to find her parents and to get an education. When she was just 18 months old, Juana’s parents had to leave her behind in Mexico when they came to the U.S. “I didn't know my parents and I wanted to find them,” says Juana with the aid of EveryStep case manager Berenice Reyes, who also speaks Spanish. “I also wanted to go to school here because in Mexico, things are very difficult. My parents wanted me to go to school here.”

Juana did reunite with her parents and completed her education. While she speaks English, she feels more confident telling her story in her native language, with Berenice providing interpretation assistance.

EveryStep helps Juana make community connections
“EveryStep has been with me for two years,” says Juana, who initially was paired with EveryStep case manager Sipo Ra. “EveryStep offered me a lot of services for me and my son, Angel. Through [EveryStep’s] Stork Nest, I received a lot of things that I need, like diapers and a crib. Sipo became a friend. She visited me and brought me information and thanks to her, I'm in this home.”

Sipo had connected Juana with Habitat for Humanity, which built the house where Juana and her family now live. “Moving into the house was the happiest day of my life!” remembers Juana, whose dream of home ownership became a reality.

Doula support in birthing experience
Berenice had just become Juana’s case manager when Juana gave birth to her daughter, Fernanda, with the support of EveryStep community doula Jewelz Smith. Juana did not have a doula for the birth of Angel and says it was a very different experience having one for Fernanda’s birth. “It was very good and very helpful. With Angel, I felt alone with my pain and nobody was there to give me encouragement. Jewelz helped me get through the pain and gave me encouragement.” Juana’s doula also met with her prior to the birth to provide information about what to expect and the medications available for pain.

Berenice, who has been with EveryStep 16 years, now visits Juana and Fernanda to answer questions, provide support and conduct well baby checks. At this visit, she explained how the baby’s vision is developing and answered Juana’s questions about Fernanda’s breathing and whether she was meeting developmental benchmarks, which she is. “I can’t express how much I love my job,” says Berenice, who will continue to visit Juana until baby Fernanda is 2 years old.

Juana achieves an immigrant's ultimate goal
With support for immigrants like her, Juana achieved her dreams of coming to the U.S., receiving an education and owning her own home. But another goal was achieved in October of 2023, when Juana became a U.S. citizen. “Sipo helped me study and was very proud of me when I became a citizen,” remembers Juana.

With so much accomplished since coming to Iowa, Juana has another dream now. “My partner works in construction, and I want to help him create his own company that I can help [manage]!”

Life’s difficult moments are often turning points in the trajectory of our lives. EveryStep weaves together the threads of a care and support network to help turn moments of vulnerability into opportunities to thrive. Our staff listens to people’s short-term needs and long-term goals, offering support that touches many different aspects of their lives.

EveryStep’s programs have led to real results for thousands of Iowans who are now leading more stable, fulfilling lives. Your donation, even a small contribution, helps immigrants like Juana become a connected part of the community fabric.

Help Immigrants Like Juana Now

Please consider donating today to make sure no one falls through the gaps in our community fabric.