Donelle Beard is a single mother of three children. The day she got the call and learned she was accepted into the Climb Wyoming program was among the happiest of her life. “That phone rang and Leah [Janssen-Governanti] said ‘Congrats, you’re in.’ I told her,‘Don’t play with me, I can’t handle it.’ I was so excited I almost swerved off the road.”

When she applied, and was told that of 71women, there was room for only 10, Beard said she was thinking her chances were slim. She has an associate’s degree, and she didn’t know if that would help or hinder her chances. “All the women were talking to each other, and trying to figure out who was going to make it. I really didn’t think I would.”

She knew that the program would make a significant difference for her family. In order to be present for all of the trainings, she had to cut back hours at her job. “I was willing to adjust and go the extra mile because I knew that in the long run it would benefit us so much.” The person who was watching Beard’s children had to leave town to take care of family out of state.  Beard was left without anyone to watch her children. “My family came through for me, they were able to help me finish the program.” Then, she lost her job.

“I just knew if I kept my head up, even at the lowest point I had to just keep trying. You have to go for that goal and not let anything in the universe stop you.”

Beard said that even with her degree in early childhood development she was unable to find career-based employment. “I would always apply for promotions, or higher jobs and get turned down. I felt like I was undeserving of a good job,” Beard said.

During the Climb program, the participants are assigned mentors. “I never would’ve picked them out of a room full of people, but they’ve been amazing to me. They told me to keep my head held high and keep going, they would help me find a good job.”

As part of the office skills program, Beard was placed into Sandy Widmer’s Farmer’s Insurance Company. “I’m a customer service representative, so I do quotes on home and auto insurance, help people do claims on vehicles. Basically if there’s a question, I find the answer.” And she has her own desk. When she took her kids in to see where she works, 10-year-old RaeShaun said, “Wow, mom, are we going to be rich now?” She replied, “No, not rich but we can keep praying for that.” She’s working on the certifications to become an insurance agent, which will mean another income increase for her family.

“This job is like paradise compared to other jobs I’ve had,” Beard said. There was one time in between daycares that she couldn’t find a babysitter for two days. She called Widmer to tell her she would have to miss two days. Widmer told her, “It’s just a couple of days and things happen, just bring them in with you.” Beard said that she just sat back in disbelief, she was worried about losing her job and her new boss just told her to bring the kids in. “It’s really a whole different kind of life,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe that I could find another person like me, finding somewhere that it’s not just a job and I’m still able to be a human.”

Beard graduated the program in July and said that even though it’s been a short time, she can already tell the difference in her family. “It [Climb] gave me the financial background that I needed, it gave me confidence in myself, knowing that I’m capable of working out my problems. It gave me the financial stability for my family, and changed my outlook on myself.”

Beard looks forward to the day when she can take her kids to do more as a family. “I budget my butt off, and there’s no money to go to the swimming pool, or to the movies. As a mother, I want to take my kids places but I never get a chance to do that because I’ve always been struggling. I want to be able to do stuff with my kids without worrying about money. This job I believe will let me do that.”

Beard remembers what it was like to be sitting there, hoping to get into the program and she hopes that the people who didn’t make it into this program don’t give up. “Give it a shot. It doesn’t hurt to try and if you don’t make it in the first time keep trying until you make it in. This wasn’t the first time I applied either. Keep trying.”