Kaleah Smith had a challenging childhood. Kaleah moved dozens of times, attended 30 schools and was in dozens of foster homes and group homes. Kaleah was expelled from school and sent to juvenile hall when she was 14. At that time, she was removed from her current foster home, separated from her younger brother and ran away several times, violating her probation.
This led to Kaleah not finishing high school. At the age of 16, Kaleah was working, trying to support herself living on her own. At the age of 18, Kaleah aged out of foster care and went to live on her own. In 2019, Kaleah and her fiancé moved to San Diego, and she started her second chance high school diploma program at Urban Corps Charter School. Kaleah also got connected to Just in Time for Foster Youth, where they helped her get her first place by herself in El Cajon. This came at just the right time and she is very proud of this accomplishment, after she spent several months in a homeless shelter.
Kaleah didn’t let her circumstances define her. At Urban Corps, Kaleah works with a City of San Diego homeless encampment and beautification crew where she works to pick up trash and bulky items to make neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces safer. Kaleah is graduating from Urban Corps Charter School in December 2022. Kaleah is ambitious and has big goals. Before she graduates, she wants to obtain her driver’s license and receive new trainings and certifications. After graduation, Kaleah wants to go to college for cosmetology, sociology and nursing. Her other goals? To be married with a big family, financially and spiritually stable.
Meet Bobbie: Workforce Development Trainee. Dreams for Change is a WE partner that serves as a lifeline and beacon of hope for San Diegans experiencing homelessness. Through their innovative workforce development program, Dreams Cuisine, women who are homeless or housing insecure are paid wages to train and work on food trucks while building their soft skills and gaining vital on-the-job experience. WE is thrilled to announce the renewal of our partnership with Dreams for Change and support an anticipated 23 women through the program in the year ahead. As low-income San Diegans face greater obstacles than ever, we are grateful to stand with them and empower women striving for better lives.
From IRC San Diego’s Facebook post: Nagiba got her first sewing machine when she was 11 years old and spent much of her life making traditional Iraqi costumes and clothes for her neighbors and friends. After fleeing her home with her husband and two daughters, learning English as a second language and working to support her family for many years, she was able to open up her own business in El Cajon. From enrolling her in our Vocational ESL classes and work readiness training to helping her get her first job in the States to providing her with small business counseling and support, we are proud to have supported Nagiba every step of the way, as she rebuilt her life in San Diego.
Today, she is an entrepreneur, seamstress, former refugee, and our hero for sewing face masks to keep San Diegans safe through COVID MASK UP! Thank you to our community partner Women’s Empowerment International for their support of refugee entrepreneurs like Nagiba! (And we thank you, IRC, for being an amazing partner!)
It was 2009 when Aneta immigrated to California from her native Iraq. Like many of the new Americans we serve, Aneta had been highly trained in her home country where she had learned the ancient art of threading from a master threader. Threading is a natural, chemical-free hair removal technique that’s increasingly popular in the U.S.
She dreamed of owning her own threading business in her new home. And so she got prepared.
After earning a degree in Business Administration, Aneta shared her dreams and plans with the WE STAR Center to open her own threading studio. She received much-needed assistance with licensing, permitting and business planning.
Today, her studio, Threading by Aneta, is thriving. Her warm, tastefully decorated space in San Diego’s Clairemont neighborhood attracts a regular clientele. And while she is also an experienced hair stylist and cosmetologist, threading remains her true passion. Call Aneta to make an appointment and support our wonderful entrepreneur: