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Regina Lucas: From Inner City Struggle to Independence

At 21 years old and with a baby on the way, Regina Lucas saw social services as a bridge that could take her away from a life of misfortunes and into a stable situation in which she could thrive.  But growing up in the 90s in South Central, Los Angeles, the odds of overcoming hardship seemed to stack against her.

Regina was raised by her grandmother until age 13, when she left to marry a man in Mississippi. “It was just a hard knock life for me when I was growing up.” Says Regina, adding that her decision to leave was due to the abuse she was experiencing at home and in school.

When that marriage failed and she returned to Los Angeles, she found herself in another troubled relationship. This time she was pregnant. “I didn’t have help at the time, and I wasn’t working. That’s what let me to get on county assistance.”

The Department of Public Social Services provides an invaluable safety net for women like Regina, especially when supplemented with programs like the Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) that help participants overcome challenges through specialized supportive services.

GAIN offers resources like subsidized childcare, mental health counseling, domestic violence support, and comprehensive welfare-to-work plans. JVS SoCal operates the GAIN program in Palmdale, Chatsworth, and Santa Clarita.

Regina received public assistance for several years in Los Angeles. She accepted various customer service roles to which she was referred while in the program, but her transition out of public help happened when she moved to the Antelope Valley in 2007.

What really made a difference, Regina says, was the encouragement and guidance she received from Victoria, a JVS SoCal staffer. She instilled in her that she had to take her vocational assessment seriously.

“I participated as long as I could,” she says. Regina signed up for employment workshops, and remedial education to obtain her high school diploma. She then enrolled in child development courses in the local community college and continued interviewing for roles that fit her career plan.

Regina didn’t stop there. She continued her visits with the JVS GAIN team and extended her personal development efforts by taking advantage of the Section 8 Homeownership program. “She inspired me to reach for the stars and I did it with the help of her encouragement,” she says about Victoria.

Today Regina works for a foster care organization where she helps children with high-risk behaviors. Her goal is to open her own home for foster children and employ a multi-generational staff to raise kids who struggle to find families.

Learn about JVS SoCal and the array of programs we support to help women like Regina Lucas.