“Shauna”* is a 38 year old single mother with a daughter in high school. Living with her parents after a criminal conviction, she had aspirations of becoming a bartender and achieving financial independence so that she could support a better life for her daughter. But in order to become a bartender, she needed certifications that she didn’t have — certifications that were out of reach with limited finances and education. That’s where the Unknown Angels Foundation came in.

A 503(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Vermont, the Unknown Angels Foundation helps homeless individuals and families start a better life through targeted financial assistance and emotional counseling, as well as direct services like shelter, rehab, education, jobs, and health care.

Study after study has indicated that the most reliable way of helping people is helping them help themselves. Formed just over half a year ago, the Unknown Angels Foundation is already hard at work providing customized, wraparound solutions to help homeless or otherwise struggling people find the other side of the rough patch. Often these individuals have made relatively minor mistakes early on in their adult lives, and are now struggling to relieve the accumulated weight and move forward. At the heart of the Angels’ work is a core belief that a little trust and financial assistance can radically transform people’s lives.  

When Shauna met the Foundation, they began with an in-depth conversation about her goals and the steps she’d need to get there. The Foundation then helped her get into bartending school and funded her attendance. As of early 2019, she’s working on completing her coursework and actively turning her life around. The Foundation shares that “As she’s started going to school and working towards a goal, all of a sudden, her whole outlook on life has changed dramatically. Being able to take that step from where she was before to where she is now… it’s huge, just to see the difference that one small step in the right direction can make.”

The Unknown Angels Foundation works carefully to identify candidates who are highly motivated and ready to make a positive change in their lives. Each solution is entirely customized to the individual. For some people, this might look like tuition assistance; for others, it might look like buying the gas they need to get to a job.

Direct financial assistance isn’t the only area the Unknown Angels work in. Another referred family had two young daughters, aged 7 and 8, who were able to participate in dance classes thanks to the Foundation’s intervention. “At the end of the day, it’s really about being able to enjoy life, not just get through it,” the Foundation shares. Ultimately, the goal of the Unknown Angels Foundation is to try to help move people past their hardships and embrace joy — especially so their kids can have a better life and brighter future.

“It’s wonderful that something that seemed so closed off and unattainable at first is now a reality,” says the Unknown Angels Foundation. “Even if that’s something as simple as a 7 year old’s jazz dance class.”

One of the biggest lessons that the Unknown Angels Foundation has learned about working with this community is that “there really is hope. In every walk of life, there are both good and bad times, but if you can find the people that are highly motivated to get out of their difficult situation, then even a little boost can have a large impact.”

Any donations to the Unknown Angels Foundation goes directly back to the people they help. For more information or to contribute to their cause, visit unknownangelsfoundation.com.

*Name changed for privacy