NORWALK, Conn. - It can be difficult raising children alone. That’s why Akisha Cassermere, a single mother in Norwalk, founded Breakthrough Options for Families—an organization which helps parents overcome hardships through advocacy, social work and mentoring.
“You can’t judge somebody until you have walked a mile in their shoes, and I’ve walked miles in the shoes of a lot of the families we advocate for,” she said.
Founded in 2006, Breakthrough Options for Families offers a wide range of assistance programs for low-income residents. For one, it helps teach parents how to advocate for themselves and their children in work and school environments. If a family is having trouble in school for example, Cassermere might direct them toward the right people to contact in the district. For parents of a child with special needs, the organization's founder might also share the insight she has developed through navigating the education system for a son who is autistic.
“There were doors that were shut in our faces and I didn’t want others to feel that,” she said.
Another goal of Breakthrough Options for Families is to help steer children in a positive direction toward the future by providing them with youth mentors. Cassermere said she is always looking for more volunteers to help facilitate this program.
She doesn't aim to only help families, though. Made possible by a recent partnership with Norwalk Community College, students working toward associate’s degrees in human services can now complete their internship hours by working directly with clients serviced by Breakthrough Options for Families.
Cassermere encourages locals to contact her if interested in volunteering to help the organization. She said she is looking for help planning a gala it would like to hold during the spring of 2013 as well as other events it will be holding in the future. Email Akisha Cassermere at firstname.lastname@example.org.