At Warren Village, two moms find hope for building new lives as Americans

Christy Steadman
csteadman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/19/22

It was a toddler’s bed that provided Kim Duby with the life’s path she is traveling today. When her son outgrew the bed, she put it up for sale on Facebook. A family advocate at Warren Village …

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At Warren Village, two moms find hope for building new lives as Americans

Posted

It was a toddler’s bed that provided Kim Duby with the life’s path she is traveling today.

When her son outgrew the bed, she put it up for sale on Facebook. A family advocate at Warren Village responded, asking Duby if she would donate it instead to help a mother in need. 

Duby wanted to help. So, she gave the bed away. Little did she know then how much of an impact that moment would have on her life.

Warren Village is a nonprofit residential community located at 13th Avenue and Gilpin Street near Cheesman Park. It provides single parents in need with more than a roof for their families. It has a two-generation approach to end the cycle of poverty and empower families to reach self-sufficiency. Warren Village offers a wide variety of resources that include transitional, private housing, parent services and advocacy, and early childhood education and childcare.

Duby, a new U.S. citizen, is among its residents. It was through giving away her son’s bed that Duby first learned of Warren Village.  

The U.S.A offers opportunity

Duby, 24, immigrated to Colorado from Vietnam in October 2014 after she met and married her husband, Christopher, an American from Denver. Their son, Alexander, was born in Denver, but soon after, the family moved to Houston. In 2018, tragedy struck when Christopher died.

“After my husband passed away, I was lost,” Duby said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Facing financial hardship, she and Alexander, who is now 7, moved back to Colorado to stay with her mother-in-law.

Duby began looking into housing but found it unaffordable. She also found that housing assistance was waitlisted for at least five years. So, she turned to Warren Village. 

“Four months later, I had my own apartment,” Duby said. “It is a gift.”

Since moving to Warren Village, Duby completed two semesters at the Community College of Denver to improve her English. She then decided to continue her education, building on her undergraduate work in Vietnam. She is attending Western Governors University, a private online university, to earn an MBA in IT management. She expects to graduate this May.

Duby also became a U.S. citizen — something she had intended on doing ever since she arrived in the U.S.

In “the U.S.A, you’re free here,” Duby said.

One eligibility requirement to become a naturalized U.S. citizen is that a person must be a resident for at least five years. The requirement is only three years if married to a U.S. citizen. When Duby was in Houston with her husband, she applied and was on her way to becoming a citizen, but her husband died before the three-year mark. 

By the time she had re-settled in Colorado, Duby passed the five-year mark. So, she re-applied and passed the test and other requirements of citizenship.

Her citizenship ceremony was in September. She registered to vote that day and cast a ballot in the November election.

‘Here, I feel safe’

Another immigrant at Warren Village is Rachel. She is 22 and, as a refugee originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, requested that her last name not be used in this article.

Her father died when she was 10 and, at age 13, her mother died, leaving Rachel in the care of a stepfather she describes as abusive. She fled the country and eventually, with the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, came to the U.S. in 2017. 

“I was so excited to come to America,” Rachel said. “Here, I feel safe.”

Colorado was Rachel’s first and only stop, settling with local foster families — who she is still close with. She earned her high school diploma and then got pregnant with Exoucia, now a toddler. Rachel’s case manager in the foster care system is also a volunteer with Warren Village and suggested Rachel apply for housing there. She did, and moved into Warren Village about a year ago.

She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“I love school,” Rachel said. “If I wasn’t here at Warren Village, I wouldn’t be able to raise my child and go to school full time.”

Rachel got her U.S. citizenship in May. Like Duby, Rachel was excited to vote for the first time in November. But it was also difficult, she said, because she had to do a lot of research to get to know the candidates and issues.

“For me, getting to vote really mattered,” Rachel said. “It was not about the vote, but more about making an educated vote.”

Both Rachel and Duby are looking forward to their lives as U.S. citizens here in Colorado.

Both have big dreams. Duby hopes to some day sponsor some of her family members in Vietnam so they can join her here in the U.S.

Rachel is grateful for the caring familial setting she has established for herself and her daughter.

“Even though I don’t have family (blood relatives) here,” she said, “Warren Village is like a very huge family.”

U.S. citizens, Denver, Colorado, Warren Village

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