Almost two years ago, I wasn’t working. I was a stay-at-home mom. I lived in a home with my future ex-husband and two teenage kids. The house was a 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath house on a cul-de-sac with a garage as well as a backyard and a deck. You never would know to look at me that I have been homeless. I never thought this would be the path my life would take. Dependent for shelter, a bed and meals. A frightening and painful place to be.
On April 28, 2012, my husband threw me out of the house and called my sister to come to Suffolk, Virginia to pick me up. Thank God for family.
To look at me – I don’t look any different than any of you. You would never think that in a second, or a blink of an eye, everything you have can all be swept away or circumstances can change drastically and you can find yourself homeless.
I resided with my sister during the period of time from April 28, 2012 until February 5, 2013. ON that morning, around 6:30 a.m., my sister dropped me off at Good Shepherd Center in Wilmington. She had given me 30 days’ notice that I would no longer be able to live with her and that I was going to the homeless shelter. She could no longer care for me. It was taking a toll on her. I wasn’t working and she didn’t feel I was taking care of myself. My ex-husband was not sending money every month to keep up with living expenses so my sister could no longer afford to care for me.
The morning my sister dropped me off at Good Shepherd, I was so scared. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been homeless. I had never been in a situation like this before. I had never been inside a shelter. But as time went on, I made friends. I adjusted. It was a weird feeling sleeping in a dorm with a bunch of other women but I did manage to get some sleep. To pass the time I would help set up in the kitchen in the morning and serve breakfast as well as dry dishes after lunch. I worked in the laundry room. Then later on I was asked to help with evening check-in.
The case managers helped me work a plan. Two months after many online applications and pounding the pavement, I was hired by Dollar Tree. After 5 months at Good Shepherd, they found me a place to live. It wasn’t just any place but a place of my own. Somewhere to call home. A one bedroom apartment at Hopewood. I can’t thank Good Shepherd enough. What an awesome feeling. It makes you want to celebrate.
Today I am grateful for everyone that shows up to my apartment or job and asks, “How are you doing?” I am grateful for the investment Good Shepherd made in me and for their support. I am self-sufficient. I pay my bills. It makes me feel so strong. I am invincible.
*name changed for privacy