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'I feel like I'm worth something'

Project Self-Sufficiency has been in Huntington Beach for 25 years, helping low-income single parents get the help and compassion they need.

October 20, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com

Jane was happy all the time.

Newly married to her dream husband — handsome, hardworking and wonderful — she lived in her dream house in Cypress with her three children and was having success as a real estate agent.

It was in this bubble that she was met with a social worker one day after work who told her her husband was molesting her daughter.

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"I think I died that day," she said.

From that day in September 2007 to today, the family has struggled to get back some sense of normalcy and searched in vain for someone to give them a hand to get out of their situation.

It wasn't until recently, when Jane found Project Self-Sufficiency in Huntington Beach, that she found someone willing to help and feels like her life is finally getting back on track. Jane asked that her real name not be used because of an ongoing criminal trial with her now-estranged husband.

After that day in September, the family never went back to their home and lost all of their possessions, Jane said.

She and the kids stayed with her parents in Los Alamitos.

Jane said she had a nervous breakdown and was never able to go back to her real estate job, instead turning the part-time job she had on the side into her full-time career.

"I felt like I had changed," she said. "I could no longer be around people."

Six months afterward, her youngest son was diagnosed with severe pediatric bipolar disorder and a disease that causes the back of his brain to grow into his spine.

"You want the world to stop after you're dealing with a tragedy, but it doesn't," she said of the diagnosis.

As the family struggled, Jane pushed for criminal charges, but her family pushed back. They just wanted to forget about it and move on, but she couldn't.

As Jane moved her family to an apartment in Huntington Beach, she struggled and continues to struggle to work full-time between her son's medical appointments and violent outbursts at school, her daughter's therapy appointments and her own.

She applied for services and assistance but was turned down for earning slightly more than the limit.

"How do I make too much money when I have no food in my house?" she asked.

It wasn't until she discovered Project Self-Sufficiency that she found someone who was finally willing to help her, she said.

Project Self-Sufficiency helps low-income, single parents work toward becoming economically independent through educational goals.

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