Several years ago, their eyes locked across the garden area where our clients relax. Kevin had arrived at the shelter first; Monica, a month later. It was love at first sight, and their feelings were definitely not encouraged.
“You’re not supposed to date here,” Monica says. But they had so much in common, it was tough not to open up to each other.
Both married and divorced. Both were driven here because of broken hearts and bad choices. Both with adult children who didn’t know their parents lived in a shelter, because those parents had chosen not to tell them.
Their broken hearts were caused by the deaths of loved ones in quick succession. Monica lost her mother, father, and sister, “crawled into a cocoon” and lost her car, job, and house. Kevin lost his mother, son, two brothers, and his best friend in a two-year period. While he took care of his mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, his employer fired him. When his savings were gone, this talented welder had nowhere to go.
When Kevin arrived at Opportunity House, he was immediately enrolled in our Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program. Not long after that, he applied for – and got – a good job at Reading Truck Body. An apartment of his own soon followed.
Monica was getting on her feet, too, working as the receptionist at our Second Street Learning Center. Kevin spotted her by chance one day as she walked down Penn Street, and asked her on a date.
The dates continued. She visited Kevin’s new place now and then, but wouldn’t move in. Even so, “we decided that we had to take care of each other,” says Monica.
And they have. “We got better with each other and for each other,” says Monica. “We’re both strong—we don’t give up. When I was down, he would pick me up; when he was down, I would pick him up.”
As they’ve healed, they’ve begun to acquire the trappings of regular, tax-paying citizens. Along with his job, Kevin has a 2004 Harley. Monica has a car.
And the biggest thing: they’ve purchased a home together and are homeowners. The place is on an acre way out in the country. Mountains loom in front of them. A neighbor’s horse grazes behind them. Four dogs live next door. Monica is putting in flower and vegetable gardens.
“I love waking up to the beautiful views we have,” says Monica. “Right now, I’m sitting on the porch looking at the farm and mountains. She and Kevin have their morning coffee on the porch every weekend. “That’s very peaceful. Very settling. God blesses us every day.”