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Natasha Cash was born and raised in Dennis, but says most of her family members have moved off-Cape to places they don’t want to be because they can’t afford to live on Cape Cod.

“Getting an education will help me stay on Cape Cod,” says Cash, who has a 13-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son.

Cash, who lives in Yarmouthport, is the latest HAC client to win a scholarship through One Family Scholar. a comprehensive college scholarship program that breaks the cycle of poverty and family homelessness for low-income single parents. Unlike traditional scholarship programs that focus solely on tuition assistance, the One Family Scholars model focuses on four building blocks for success: college success, financial success, career success and leadership success. The goal is to help people secure family-sustaining employment in their field.

Last September, Cash joined HAC’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, which helps low-income families build assets and make progress toward moving away from public assistance. Participants get long-term counseling to help them build their employment skills and increase their financial literacy.

“The people at One Family Scholars help you achieve your goals,” said Cash. “They have a lot of resources you wouldn’t know about otherwise.”

Jan Nelson, HAC’s FSS coordinator, recommended Cash for the One Family Scholarship.

“I was impressed with her from the moment we met – her empathy, reliability, determination and persistence,” said Nelson. “She has no fear of the work ahead of her and she is determined to show her children that higher education is the key to life.”

Cash’s goals are to finish school, learn to budget, repair her credit and own a home. She has worked as a dental assistant
for 17 years and plans to become a dental hygienist. “I love people, and I’m really good at it,” she said.

She started at Cape Cod Community College in September 2011 and is taking two courses this spring: “Anatomy and Physiology” and “Conversational Spanish.” Cash plans to graduate with an associate’s degree in May 2015 and then go on for a bachelor of science degree. “That makes you more marketable,” she said.

Cash, who is Native American, said, “I have a lot of support from my family, the tribe, Jan Nelson, and OFS. My daughter is proud that I’m back in school. She says I’m her role model.”

Cash was asked what she might say to others who are thinking about going back to school. “My advice would be to do it. Don’t waste your life. Go back to school. I could have done it four times over by now. If you look at the whole picture, you’ll never do it. If you look at it as baby steps, you can do it in chunks.”

Founded in 1999 by Paul and Phyllis Fireman and family, One Family is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending family homelessness in Massachusetts by working with elected officials, faith and community leaders, businesses and foundations, and higher learning institutions. With the skills and experience gained from their tenure in the program, One Family Scholars become role models for their children, providing them with the foundation for a stable life.