Majors Davis“I always knew I could do it,” Tanya Gomez says with a smile. “It was just helpful to hear someone else say it.”

Gomez dropped out of high school just three months shy of getting her diploma to work full time to support her parents who both have disabilities that prevent them from working.

“I always thought I’d go back to school, I always planned to, but I never did.”

That all changed when Gomez applied for Christmas assistance at our Lowell Corps Community Center in December 2015. During the application process, the mother of four heard that volunteers were needed to help out in the food pantry, a service she had accessed in the past. She contacted Dianne James to offer her time as a volunteer.

“Dianne had a different plan in mind.”

As part of an effort to help families move out of poverty, James was seeking families for whom an increased investment by The Salvation Army might translate into transformation. She selected Gomez to participate.

“Dianne is pushy,” Gomez laughs as the two women sit across from each other. “But in a good way.

The bubbly, fast-talking Gomez describes how the caseworker stayed in contact with frequent phone calls, even offering to come to Tanya’s home if it made things easier.

“I used to use every little excuse to try to avoid finishing my high school equivalency test.” Gomez says. “Dianne didn’t let me get away with that. Math scared me. I didn’t think I could do it.”

Within a year, she successfully completed all facets of the exam. James was there beaming from ear to ear along with Tanya’s daughter, Charliza, aged 7, as her mother finally got her diploma.

Years after dropping out, The Salvation Army helped Gomez enroll at Middlesex Community College with the goal of becoming a registered nurse and earning her own home.

“I’ve always taken care of the people around me. It comes naturally to me, I guess.” Gomez is currently working part-time as a home health aide while she takes her prerequisite classes. “Dianne helped me to learn that sometimes I have to put myself first, so I can help everyone else.”