Stepping Out of Homelessness


Moving into a new home is always exciting. For individuals who have experienced homelessness, it’s one of the most exciting days of their lives. They leave Opportunity House and move to their new home–a place where they can do what they want to do, on their own schedule. The autonomy is liberating, empowering and satisfying.

Sandy shares with us her experience of walking into her new apartment after living at Opportunity House emergency shelter for several years during the pandemic.

“I was excited and happy at the same time when I learned I was getting a place to live,” noted Sandy. Arriving at the shelter before the pandemic and staying here through the pandemic was a considerably longer stay than most clients experience at the shelter. The upheaval in her life and in the world at that time, made it a necessary consideration for her.

“I was looking forward to having a place of my own. A place where I could go to bed when I wanted to and get up when I was ready,” noted Sandy.  Although she had never lived by alone before, she adjusted to it quickly. “At first, it was scary being by myself, but now I am used to it.”

Sandy smiles as she shares that her new bedroom is arranged in a way that is comfortable for her. She enjoys having a bathroom to herself and the freedom to take showers at her leisure.  “It’s what I always hoped for and now I will have it,” said Sandy.

“The best part of having my own apartment is cooking my own food.  I can cook anything I want when I’m hungry for it,” she said. She enjoys making comfort foods like egg sandwiches, hot dogs and soup. “Whatever I’m in the mood for, I can cook for myself,” Sandy said.

She looks forward to getting a television and have the ability to relax and watch classic television shows and movies.

Sandy never expected to come to Opportunity House. She had been living with friends and they asked her to leave. I didn’t have any money and had nowhere to go. “My meds ran out. I signed myself into the hospital to get back on meds and feel better,” she noted.  After being discharged from Pottsville Hospital, they dropped her off at Opportunity House.“ I was scared and didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t familiar with Reading and I didn’t know anyone here. I was like a lost sheep in a new city,” she added.

She was welcomed at the shelter. “People made me feel good about being here. I made friends quickly.” Sandy felt safe at Opportunity House and liked the other people living at the shelter. “I liked the safety and security, but also wanted freedom to live on my own,” she added.

During the pandemic it was difficult to get connected to the services she needed to get back on her feet.  As the pandemic lessened, she got connected with Service Access Management (SAM). As part of their services, they helped her find an apartment. “It took several months and then it happened.”

Today, Sandy is happy with her life. “If you stay positive and go through life and keep going forward you’ll get through it.” I’m happy now–happier than I ever was. I’m in my own place, I am the master of my own domain. Nobody is telling me what to do.”

Her plans for the future include formalizing her divorce and reverting to her maiden name.

Sandy’s advice to people experiencing homelessness is simple “Go to Opportunity House. They helped me, they can help you.”

Since 1984, Opportunity House has welcomed men, women, families and Veterans who are experiencing homelessness and have nowhere else to turn. Your support of Opportunity House helps us empower people to improve their lives.


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