A Fighting Spirit to Overcome Homelessness-Opportunity House

“My mom taught me how to keep fighting and not to give up. My dad taught me to dream.” Those traits are part of her DNA that has helped her survive abuse, homelessness, and despair.

Today, as Crystal is rebuilding her life, her internal motivation drives her while her Zen-like calmness gives her peace through the process. “I was completely broken, but I held onto hope. Great things aren’t easy. Great things take time, “she shares in the quiet cadence of her voice.

Her surreal calmness almost denies the trauma of the years leading up to her arrival at Opportunity House.

First Time Experiencing Homelessness

She first experienced homelessness in 2018, after the long-time partner and father of her two oldest children was sentenced to prison. Although she had been working full-time, her employer reduced her hours, and she could no longer afford rent and other expenses for her family. She and her children went to St. Mary’s Shelter in Phoenixville. Through their rapid rehousing program, she secured an apartment for her and her children. After two years, the landlord raised the rent, and Crystal couldn’t afford it.

Thankfully, her parents managed a hotel, and she was able to live in the hotel for a few months and avoid literal homelessness.

She continued to work in a local early childhood education center and eventually, she and her children moved into their own apartment in Royersford. A rekindled friendship turned into a blossoming relationship, and he moved in with her.

Experiencing Homelessness Again
A primitive tent built with sticks and a tarp.

Photo by Araz Yurtseven: Homelessness can mean people live in primitive settings to survive.

When the pandemic hit, her work stopped, and the dynamics of their relationship changed. Her boyfriend became controlling, and he was destroying every aspect of her life. He totaled her car, emptied her bank accounts, and harassed her at home and work. She sent her children to live with a trusted adult to avoid them seeing or being part of the abuse, she was experiencing.

Eventually, he was arrested. His behavior spiraled out of control. He followed her to her home and to work. The landlord asked her to leave, and her employer terminated her. Once again, Tara was homeless.

Her spirit was broken, her will to live floundering and Crystal succumbed to the lies and promises of her controlling boyfriend. They lived in the woods in Royersford for over a year.

The fighting spirit that helped her through her struggles was nearly gone. Until one day when she got angry and locked him out of all her accounts. Then, she visited a local thrift store that provided food for homeless people and met people from a local church who gave her hope. They provided a place for her to stay—but her former boyfriend found her and attacked her. The pastor picked her up and took her to a safe place. Staying one step ahead of her abuser proved daunting and he was able to find her again.

The Long Road to Rebuilding Her Future

As this new chapter was unfolding, Crystal developed a friendship that began to restore her inner strength. Her newfound friend helped her find parts of her being that she thought were lost. She began to feel hope. She began to see light in her life again. Over time, the relationship deepened, and she started to love again. While her relationship blossomed, her former boyfriend was unrelenting and followed and harassed them. Then, Crystal learned that she was pregnant. She had to make dramatic changes for her safety and the safety of her baby. She chose to come to Opportunity House while her boyfriend moved in with his parents.

Coming to Opportunity House was an epiphany for Crystal. It was a time for self-reflection and introspection. “I was broken, and I need to fix myself,” said Crystal. She was scared, but it forced her to take control of her own and her unborn child’s life. “I became independent, and I got motivated. I began to heal and find a path forward,” she added. Although she was living apart from her son’s father, his encouragement and support gave her the confidence to forge a new path for her life. She made connections with others at the shelter which reignited her desire to want more for herself and her family. “I realized everyone is going through something. I’m not alone,” she added. “I could see people making small strides and big steps forward. I knew that if they could do it, so could I.” That empowered her to seek out the tools and resources she needed to begin to reshape her life.

“The name Opportunity House says it all,” she added. “It’s all about the opportunity and motivation. You must choose to take the steps and ask for what you need to heal and rebuild your life.”

Donate to help women like Crystal rebuild their lives.



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