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Tamayra Villahermosa, Program Manager at Fresh Start's Housing Program for Spanish Speaking women, shares her personal story of hope during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

"I feel very emotional when I think about my life in Puerto Rico, making the decision to move to another country, away from my family, was not easy. But, Hurricane Maria left me no choice. Living in PR at that time was chaos. There was no money, no electricity, no gasoline, and ice and food were scarce. So, on November 17, 2017, I made the tough decision to move to the United States. Although I have a bachelor's degree, I started working in factories because nowhere else would give me an opportunity because of my English. That's when my husband Reggie, a Fresh Start employee, helped me get me an interview with the company, and I was so excited when they offered me a job!

I started working at Fresh Start in August 2018 as PRN, and over the past two years I have gone from a PRN, to a part-time employee on the weekends, to a full-time employee, and now I am the Program Manager at Fresh Start's Spanish Speaking House for women struggling with addiction.

I've been through a lot in the past 3 years - changing countries, learning English, and being so far away from the person I love most in this world, my son Ricardo - and it has been so difficult. But, I appreciate the support of many people in this company. I have grown, both personally and professionally. I have only been in this country for a very short time and my greatest motivation, to continue growing, is my son, whom I miss every second. I also want to thank my greatest support, my husband Reggie, who is also a person in recovery. He has taught me that recovery is possible. Although I love being in the United States, I am very proud of the place where I was born, and I love being Hispanic.”

Fresh Start has two programs funded by Philadelphia's Office of Addiction Services for Spanish speaking men and women. The programs are fully staffed with Spanish speaking employees, offer Spanish Case Management services, and have a Spanish menu with traditional Spanish meals. Tamayra's story is just one of many at Fresh Start where our employees have made the difficult decision to leave their families in pursuit of a better life, and we are incredibly honored to have them!