In the face of adversity, some individuals possess an unparalleled resilience that not only helps them survive but also empowers them to thrive against the odds.
Antoinette Osborn’s story encapsulates the challenges that many individuals faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her journey is a testament to the strength and transformative power of determination.
Osborn injured her shoulder at work and contracted what she described as two severe cases of COVID-19 within two years. In 2021, the virus left her with long-lasting side effects.
“After COVID-19, I couldn’t even walk for a half hour without having to stop and rest,” she recalled.
While Osborn was out of work for more than a year, she received rental assistance. When that relief ended, she was left financially distressed and evicted.
“What saved me from feeling like there was no hope was being part of a community,” Osborn said. “They helped me spiritually, mentally and emotionally.”
Osborn had no other option but to locate a women’s shelter. She was assured it would be a temporary stay.
“I didn’t want this to happen,” she said. “But it did and the only thing I can do is tell my testimony.”
While at the shelter, Osborn said, '...she noticed a resource board on the wall'. She realized Step Forward offered a computer literacy class, so she signed up. She was relieved to have something to keep her occupied while in what she called a transition period.
“We’re learning Word, Excel, Customer Service, they’re teaching us how to use the phone!” she said, optimistically. “It was like, oh, wow! This is so cool because it was stuff I had wanted to learn.”
Osborn recently completed Step Forward’s Microsoft Office software training. Feeling empowered, she plans to continue her training with Step Forward. She encourages other people to seek out and enroll in the agency’s Professional Development program(s).
“If I have something to work towards and something that will help me, I will go forward. I have nothing else to do but build myself up,” she said, optimistically.
In July 2023, the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies found the statewide poverty rate had increased from 12.7 percent to 13.4 percent. The Center for Community Solutions confirmed the need for services increased dramatically within the last two years, with some of the largest needs being food, clothing and household items.
“We want to address each client’s immediate needs, but also set them on a path to self-sufficiency,” Audrey Taylor, Step Forward’s Director of Professional Development, said.
“Empowering individuals through job training and employment connections isn’t just about providing them with a paycheck, but rather it’s about giving them the tools to sculpt their own destiny. With the right tools, they get to lay the foundation for a more fulfilling future not just for them, but for generations to come.”
Osborn’s story demonstrates how with the right resources, guidance and determination, it is possible to turn even the most dire situations into opportunities for growth and transformation. Her journey is a reminder that with resilience, support and the right opportunities, anyone can overcome adversity and build a brighter future.
Watch Antoinette Osborn's interview with Newschannel 5 here:
For more information about Step Forward's Professional Development programs, click here.