Meet our 2013 Achievement Award Winners!

Each of the 2013 PPL Achievement Award winners has a remarkable story of fortitude, ambition, and hope. They’ve proven that being courageous can come in a variety of forms, and that creating life changes can lead to new opportunities and the achievement of personal goals.

PPL’s Achievement Award winners reflect our mission in action: to work with lower-income individuals and families to achieve greater self-sufficiency through housing, employment training, support services and education. All of us at PPL feel a sense of pride this evening and are thankful that we have been able to help these talented individuals. Congratulations award winners!

2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide3

Mario Coapango lost his confidence after the tragic deaths of two people in his life, a serious health diagnosis, and the unexpected loss of his job. After sinking into a state of depression and developing serious health problems, he knew he needed structure and group support to help him climb back up. That’s when Mario entered a PPL employment training program.

Soon after he started the program, Mario experienced a sense of energy and strength. He is working again and says the skills he has learned through PPL will follow him in life wherever he goes.

“Thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself,” Mario said.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide6Monica Connelly faced a dilemma: continue to work for little over minimum wage or struggle through college with limited resources in the hopes of someday brightening the future for her two kids.

Monica came to PPL Early Wonders Preschool and found a warm and nurturing educational environment for her children. This gave her the stability to be able to go back to school, where she received her degree in Business Management and is now able to provide for her children “with a little more ease.”

“There could never be enough thank you’s for all of the amazing things PPL has done for me and my family,” Monica said. “I am truly honored that you see the growth within me and my children; PPL had a major part in creating it.”


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide8Sheng Her has put her life on a new course. Since coming to the New Foundations Program, she has worked hard to overcome adversity and regain control of her chemical health. In the process, she’s become a positive role model for her relatives and fellow residents alike.

Sheng’s optimism and ‘can-do’ attitude has been contagious at New Foundations. She always has a kind word for fellow residents in distress and volunteers her time to help make the community better.

Sheng is also working to complete her GED to improve her job opportunities so she can provide for her daughter.

“It’s inspiring to see all of my hard work paying off,” Sheng said.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide11Edward Martin wants to see change for the better—for himself and his neighborhood. The stability and support of our Self-Sufficiency Program staff have helped him achieve personal self-improvement goals, including finding success in his college courses, and gaining economic independence.

Not content to just make himself better, Edward has taken the encouragement of staff and passed it along to fellow residents and neighbors. He has become an advocate for others who are dealing with issues around homelessness, and has long-term dreams of being able to help those without work. Edward plans to own his own barber shop one day where he can hire others from the community and give them opportunities to attain economic independence themselves.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide13Natika Murry came to PPL uncertain that she would ever work again. After receiving some encouragement through the Connections to Work program, she worked with staff to overcome personal and economic hardship and has become an example of the impact that training and education can have.

Natika has achieved many milestones: getting her GED, completing training courses in the healthcare field, and serving as an AmeriCorps member at another organization. Today Natika is working in a pharmacy after completing PPL’s Pharmacy Technician employment training program.

Natika’s achievements are driven by personal motivation and a desire to contribute, achieve, and provide for her family, and have made her a role model for friends and neighbors.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide15Lucy O’Brion is a survivor. After the loss of her marriage, her long-time job, her home, and a battle with addiction, she believes that there is more for her to do in her life. As a resident of the Cabrini Transitional House, Lucy has a safe and supportive place to live and thrive while she prepares herself for her next chapter.

Lucy has completed computer classes and is attending job training, hoping to find a job that she loves and allows her to live on her own again. She dreams of a home where she can create joyful memories with her kids and grandchildren. With the resources available through PPL, Lucy has no doubts she can attain her goals.

“I now know I can accomplish anything and this is a wonderful feeling,” Lucy said.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide17Hashep Seka is happy to see the tomatoes growing. The fruit offers proof of a successful gardening season and an opportunity to give back. Hashep taught botany at PPL’s Loring Nicollet Alternative School this year, sharing the expertise she’s gained as a local leader in community gardening, and as a school alum.

In 2009, even though she was behind on credits, Hashep came to the school with dreams of graduating high school early. Staff helped her realize her academic goals and supported her through personal challenges she met along the way. It’s a quality about the school that remains, and one reason Hashep is excited to be giving back.

“It’s nice to be back at the school and see the teachers caring for students in practical ways, just like they helped me years ago,” Hashep said.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide19Kevin Valverde Bustos came to PPL for help with his reading and math homework at our Homework ‘n’ Hoops afterschool youth program. He is persistent in his school work, knowing that he must work hard to reach his goals, no matter how long it takes.

As an avid soccer player, Kevin displays great teamwork and leadership skills during his favorite part of the program: gym. When playing soccer, he forgoes scoring goals himself in favor of empowering other teammates. Kevin huddles his team together, coaches them through plays, and works to give others opportunities to score and succeed.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide21De Juan Washington only knows what he’s known for years: either move forward or be stuck forever. With determination and optimism, he is achieving personal and professional growth and making a better life for his family in ways that seemed far off a short time ago.

His family came to PPL housing after experiencing homelessness and living in a shelter. De Juan still remembers the excitement of moving in, and gratefully takes an active role in community building efforts.

De Juan found encouragement from Self-Sufficiency staff to be resilient in hard times. While mourning the loss of his mother, De Juan still had support and strength to complete professional training courses and recently turned that training into a job with a promising career path.


2012 Awards Powerpoint Slide23Julies Yancey is a living example of change. He came to PPL through our Re-Entry to Work program, and continued to use the resources at the PPL Learning Center after completing the program. He has developed professional skills, attended financial literacy workshops, and improved his computer skills.

“PPL has helped me to achieve my goals towards self-sufficiency,” Julies said. “I now have a job that I love.”

Julies is also offering hope to others by sharing his story. He returns to PPL to speak to new Re-Entry to Work participants and joins staff to promote the program.

“I love to assist and give back in my spare time. That is what gives me the most sense of accomplishment.”





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