A Bridge from Homeless to Home–Opportunity House

“I felt like a bad mom,” said Sally* who who initially left an abusive relationship, and relied on her family and friends for housing. She and her boys would spend a month or more with a family member or friend until the living situation became chaotic, and they would ask her to leave.

After exhausting her options with family and friends, Sally* came to Opportunity House with her three sons, ages 3, 1, and 4 months.

Experiencing Homelessness

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“If it were not for Opportunity House, we would have been sleeping on the street,” noted Sally. “It was difficult to come to the shelter and ask for help. As a mom, she knew she needed to put the care of her family as her top priority. She was thankful to have a roof over her head, clothing and diapers for the children, and food for the family.

Adjusting to life at the shelter was challenging for Sally and the boys. “I cried a lot when I first came here,” she added. Everything was in a state of upheaval in their lives. She and the boys were living in a family room. “There were a lot of adjustments for me and my sons. It wasn’t easy for us,” she added.

Having to conform to the schedule at the homeless shelter was especially challenging with three small children. Mealtimes and bedtimes were difficult, as her toddler and infants were not accustomed to the new routine at Opportunity House. Sally’s boys felt isolated and confined in their small living space at the shelter.

Asking for diapers and wipes for her babies added stress to her already challenging situation. “I couldn’t provide for my children, and that made me very depressed.”

Finding Encouragement through Homelessness

At Opportunity House, Sally received support and encouragement from her case manager. “Kim and Julia helped me take the steps I needed to change my life,” she added. “They were there for me. They didn’t give up on me,” she noted. As she moved forward, she experienced obstacles that she didn’t expect. “I found a job, but the hours didn’t work for me. The job required me to work on weekends, and I didn’t have daycare for my kids,” added Sally.

Sally’s case managers encouraged her to keep moving forward with her goals. She knew she needed a job to support her family. She needed childcare. She needed a place to live.

Her case manager helped her connect with a local facility that needed personal care assistants. Sally applied and was hired. She enrolled her sons in The Second Street Learning Center while she worked. The boys enjoyed interactive lessons and playtime while the staff prepared them to be lifelong learners. Sally was relieved that her children were safe and cared for while she began creating a new life for her family.

Each day, she walked from Opportunity House to West Reading, where she continues to work as a personal care assistant. “I feel like I was meant for this job. I know I make a difference in the lives of others,” noted Sally. Her clients appreciate the personal attention and care she gives to them.

Sally has been able to save money and get an apartment for herself and the boys. Living in her own apartment is like a dream come true. The budgeting skills she learned at the shelter helped her save money and find an apartment for herself and her family. Today, they enjoy meals at their kitchen table. The boys have room to play and relax. Sally sees the changes in her boys. “They enjoy the flexibility of mealtimes, bath time, and playtime,” noted Sally. With months of hard work, determination, and the support of a team of people at Opportunity House, Sally is ready to take on this new chapter of her life. With newfound confidence, she feels like she is the mom her kids deserve.

*Name changed to protect confidentiality

 

 

SUCCESS STORY

From Chronic Homelessness to Chronically Hopeful-Opportunity House

“I wanted to come to a shelter and get myself right on my own terms.”  This has been the guiding light for Joey’s journey from chronic homelessness to stable housing. For Joey and his sibling, chronic homelessness was a way of life for nearly a decade. After graduating from high school, Joey enrolled at Cedar […]