Rhonnie Davis was forced to choose between paying for rent or textbooks. After years of struggle, she was living in her car, breaking out in hives, and studying like mad. And she had no idea how to come up with tuition for next semester.
Aisha faced a shattering decision: acquire a husband three times her age or forfeit her family and her country. Those were the options her father presented her with in the remote Nuba Mountains of Sudan—one of the most isolated regions in the world. She was a 16-year-old from Des Moines.
After her daughter was tragically murdered here, Debra moved to Des Moines to take care of final affairs. But her housing plans fell through, and the veteran found herself on the streets—somewhere she never expected to be.
Jessenia, a 15-year-old freshman, attends Empowerment Groups at the Young Women's Resource Center to find her voice, boost her confidence, learn about feminism and women's health, and, most importantly, make friends that will support her through the tough high school years.
United Way started the Real Men Read program so that kids could see more men modeling good reading skills and serving as mentors. Jon Sullivan, a retired lawyer from Ankeny, stepped right up to the challenge.
After losing everything to Hurricane Maria, Soleil and Juan moved from Puerto Rico to Des Moines, where a friend introduced them to MyFreeTaxes—a free online filing service provided by United Way and H&R Block.
When she was homeless in Redhead Park on the East Side, living out of a suitcase, sleeping on a bench, and quitting crystal meth cold turkey—Michelle Jackson wouldn't have believed she would soon be a boss.