Making It Their Home

pexels taryn elliott 4440214For Daisy* and her daughter Damski*, they know that the little things that turn an apartment into a home. From the colorful loveseat and chair to the tastefully enhanced kitchen decor, Daisy turned their new apartment into a warm and welcoming home.

Their journey to permanent housing was years in the making.  Daisy was living in Brooklyn, New York with her aunt.  She decided to come to Reading and live with a friend. The house was too crowded and she had to leave.  With no place to go, she came to Opportunity House with her then 14 year old daughter, Damski.

When she arrived, her case manager, Kim Hartman (now an SSVF case manager) worked with her to get a plan to get housed.  “Kim helped me fill out apartment applications. She also knew that I was very depressed.” Kim referred her to a primary care physician and she and Damski* got the mental health support and care they needed through Services Access and Management (SAM).

Life in the shelter was challenging for this young teenager. Damski noted that some of the women tried to be her mother and that was unsettling. She initially had a long walk to Reading High School until the shelter team arranged transportation for her. Finding a quiet space to do homework or studying was difficult. Thankfully, Damski used her school time wisely and could complete her homework at school.

Months later, Daisy and Damski moved to the second floor of Opportunity House where they had their own bedroom and shared living space. “I had my own key,” noted Damski. “We could come and go as we pleased,” added Daisy.  It was a welcomed respite from dorm-style living. They continued to go to the shelter for their meals.

On one particular evening, a local cosmetologist provided the meal. The cosmetologist quickly struck up a conversation with Damski*. In a few weeks, Damski was working as a salon assistant, washing towels, restocking supplies, and cleaning. She enjoyed the job until COVID hit and the salon was forced to close.

New Housing Options

Living in the new space gave Daisy and Damski opportunities to focus on their goals.  Daisy began focusing on her health and lost a considerable amount of weight.  “My diabetes is gone. I have more energy and I feel healthier, “notes Daisy.  She enjoys walking and cooking healthy dishes. Damski* began to explore career opportunities including cosmetology and accounting.

From Housing to Home

Soon they received news that they were selected for a 2-bedroom apartment at Beacon House in Reading, Pennsylvania one of the Opportunity House, permanent housing buildings.  They were so excited to move in that the first night they slept on the floor. Today the spacious apartment reflects their personal style.

There’s ample room for Daisy to watch her favorite television shows while Damski watches her favorite anime videos. The generous storage space including a walk-in closet, is an added bonus that makes Daisy smile.  She decorated the kitchen with a colorful backsplash and added marble-style contact paper on the counter tops. They continue to add the finishing touches to make the apartment their own.

Having their own space is good for their spirit. Both Daisy and Damski appreciate the peacefulness of their new home. “It’s good for both of us and it helps us be calm.” This new-found solace gives them a chance to focus on their long-term goals. For Daisy it’s continuing on her journey to better health.  Damski* is focusing on finishing her GED and deciding to pursue a degree in accounting or studying cosmetology.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

(c) Opportunity House 2022


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