Raised in “kinship care” by her grandmother, Sierra was placed back in foster care at 16 years old after her grandmother’s death. By 18, she had a daughter of her own and was focused on finding a stable place for them to live. At First Place, she found much more than that.
“I had a wonderful grandmother, but she was older and wasn’t able to teach me a lot of things. I almost thought it was too good to be true that there was a program geared toward teaching the skills foster kids didn’t learn from their parents.” Sierra says of her first impressions of First Place.
With her First Place team by her side, Sierra was able to manage a delicate balancing act of parenting, work, and school, all while building those fundamental skills for the future. She completed her associate’s degree in Culinary Arts, and shortly afterward, she secured a home catering permit to launch CeeCee’s Bakery.
Four years after leaving First Place, Sierra is now a mother of two and has continued working full-time while running her business. But like many others, she found herself slipping into a short-term, paycheck-to-paycheck view of her budget and finances. Tired of the stress it caused, Sierra dedicated herself to careful budgeting and extra work. In just five months, she paid off over $25,000 in debt—including her car loan—even as the pandemic impacted catering orders. As she settles into a new job with the U.S. Postal Service, her increased financial freedom means she can focus on building her savings, growing her business, and investing for her and her children’s futures.
“It’s given me a better outlook on life, knowing that I’m able to give my kids something that I didn’t have,” Sierra says of what she learned in her time at First Place and what she has accomplished since. “I know there is more out there for us.”
Pictured top: Sierra and her children celebrate her debt-free journey; Bottom: miniature cheesecakes made by Sierra. More of her baked goods can be seen on her Instagram account (@Ceecees_bakery)