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Jeremiah Program celebrates 25 years empowering single mothers and their children

A non-profit program aims at disrupting the cycle of poverty.
A non-profit program aims at disrupting the cycle of poverty. 02:17

MINNEAPOLIS — Empowering two-generations at a time and disrupting the cycle of poverty through education.

That's the mission of the Jeremiah Program.

Sitting in a beautifully decorated banquet hall, you can tell Smith and her son Ty Sims know a thing or two about dressing to the nines. That's the beauty behind the struggles.

"I know we wouldn't have been where we are without Jeremiah," said Lavasha Smith.

Smith's story goes back to 2010, when she found out she was pregnant as a first-year student in college. She was without housing but was steadfast in accomplishing her goals.

So, she took the chance and joined the Jeremiah Program.

"I was able to have a home as well as continue to pursue education, which is something I always wanted to do," Smith recalled.

25 years ago, the Jeremiah Program was founded in Minneapolis with the goal of transforming lives from poverty to prosperity. Since then, organizers say more than 3,000 families have been helped across their nine cities.

"Our mission is to work with moms as they transform their lives out of generational poverty," said Patty Healy Janssen, Jeremiah Program Minneapolis Executive Director.

Patty Healy Janssen is the executive director of the Minneapolis campus. She said empowering the community starts with education for mothers, stable and safe housing, educational daycare, and counseling for parents.

"Education is really the key to moving into a career and into a job, where one is really going to be able to create that generational wealth for their families but also generations to come," Janssen stated.

13 years later, and Smith credits the program with getting her on the road to success. She graduated from the Jeremiah Program, completed her bachelors degree and went on to obtain her masters' degree.

"I'm very proud of her and I'm glad she had the opportunity to go to college," Sims said, smiling at his mother.

Her little boy is now an 8th grader who also has big dreams to pursue a career in football and band.

Dreams made possible by hard work and the support of a unique program.

"The Jeremiah program played a really huge role in where we are today," Smith smiled as she waited for the 25th anniversary gala to begin.

Sponsors and volunteers gathered to raise $600,000 for annual expenses at the 25th annual bash.

To support and learn more about the Jeremiah Program, click here.

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