Success Stories

Every year, our agency receives feedback from families that have graduated from the Transitional Housing program. We feature a few of the many letters here.

  • Carol D.

     

    Dear Transitional Housing Staff and Board of Directors:

    I want to share with you how Transitional Housing has changed my life. I grew up poor. After I graduated, I left home and got married. Every penny we earned went to keeping us sheltered and to putting food on the table. And there were days when we did not eat. Like many people, we were working, but we were still poor.

    When my husband became severely disabled, we knew we needed to make a change. Our youngest daughter was still in school. We realized that if she were to have a chance at life, we would need to break the cycle of poverty in our family.

    We continued to look for work that would pay us a livable wage. Although we had the best intentions, we soon found ourselves homeless. We were blessed to know a kind family who took us in. But we understood when they said that we could not stay for long.

    Then a friend gave us the phone number for Steele County Transitional Housing. In the beginning, my pride kept me from picking up the phone to make that call. People have no idea how difficult it is to ask for help. But I thought about my daughter. I thought about my husband, who was, by now, unable to walk. I reached out for help. Making that phone call was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. But I did it.

    The case manager at Transitional Housing was very helpful and she immediately placed us on a waiting list. We hoped and prayed that there would be an opening in the program soon and that we would be able to find shelter. My husband’s disability was worsening, and he would not be able to survive homelessness in his condition. Winter was coming, and we were afraid.

    Months went by and we began to fear the worst. We were still homeless. The stress was beginning to take a toll on our health. But our luck was about to change. In mid-September, we received the blessed news we were waiting for! Our case manager from Transitional Housing called to say that there was an opening in the program. We would start by looking at apartments. I came to the Transitional Housing office and we called dozens of apartments and landlords.

    I’ve always been poor. But in that moment, I felt as though my life was rich and full. And I felt as though we had finally turned a corner. For the first time in my life, I began to see a bright future for my family. I began to feel hope.

    But just when things began to turn around, the unimaginable happened.

    On September 19, 2005, while we were still homeless, my husband —my partner of 33 years, my best friend and confidant, the father of my children, died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 54.

    Nothing can prepare you for something like this. I thought my life was over. But I picked myself up. I told myself I had to go on. I had to for my daughter.

    I reached out for help again. I reached out to my case manager. I knew that I would not be going through this alone. She was with me.

    I don’t know how I got through that time-but somehow, by the grace of God, and through the mentorship and support of my case manager, I did.

    Through the support of my case manager, I gathered the courage to work at Cashwise Foods on a very part-time basis. This work felt meaningful and it gave me a sense of purpose and belonging. It also helped me to build up the funds that I needed to help sustain my daughter and me through the dark winter ahead.

    My case manager and I began to set goals. I found an apartment in Owatonna. Transitional Housing paid for my first month’s rent and deposit. Each month, Transitional Housing continued to pay a portion of my rent and I paid a portion of my rent. I began to save and I began to pay down on my debt.

    I began to grow stronger. I began to see a hopeful future, and I emerged from these days—the darkest days—as an even stronger person—more hopeful, more confident, and more at peace.

    I believed that my husband was looking down on us, that he was watching over us, and that he was proud.

    Today, I continue to work full time at Cashwise. I am living in the same apartment that I was in seven years ago when I began the Transitional Housing program. But today I pay my entire rent on my own, and I pay for all of my needs. I am self-sufficient.

    My grandparents grew up in poverty; my parents grew up in poverty, and I grew up in poverty. My daughter’s generation was the last generation in my family to have to grow up in poverty.

    Because of YOU, because of Transitional Housing……

    I have stopped the cycle of poverty in my family. Thank you for giving me a second chance. I promise I will not let you down.

    Sincerely,

    Carol D.

  • Heidi B.

     

    Dear Transitional Housing:

    It is such an honor to be able to write to you as a graduate of the transitional housing program. I am thirty-three years old and a mother. My youngest is nine months old. But I am also a student, a wife, a community organizer, a volunteer, and a tax-payer. Today, I am self-sufficient.

    My journey actually began sixteen years ago, when I was seventeen. That year, I got married, and soon afterward, I graduated from Owatonna High School.

    I was married for thirteen years. I have been divorced from my first husband for nearly four years. I was forced to leave a situation that was unhealthy.

    This was a dark time in my life. I did my best to hold my head up high for my children and always had strong faith, even when times were hard. I am so thankful for the Crisis Resource Center. They connected me with Transitional Housing, and Transitional Housing worked with me to find an apartment, and began helping me with my rent on a monthly basis. Both agencies met with me on a weekly basis, assisting me with job searches, budgeting, counseling and crisis advocacy. I began paying down on my debt. I established a savings account. I was able to help my children to access the services they needed, and I went back to college. I also worked part time.

    I have always believed that we are never too old to learn new things and working with Transitional Housing has taught me so much.

    I learned how to manage bills, how to budget and how to plan. The case management has helped me to become consistent and to get my priorities in place as an independent parent. Transitional Housing helped bring out the inner talents in me so I could become successful. This program has brought out so much light where it felt dark before.

    I am proud to say that I graduated from Transitional Housing in April, 2010. I am currently working toward my Registered Nursing Degree at Riverland Community College. And my life has taken an even more positive turn. A year and a half ago, I remarried. Today, we are living in a house that we rent. We are bringing in a stable income. We pay our entire rent on time. We pay taxes. And we are self-sufficient. We have a healthy, supportive, and loving relationship. My children are being raised in a peaceful environment.

    I don’t know where my family would be today if it weren’t for Transitional Housing. My whole family was uprooted when my first marriage ended. My children still cope with many unhappy memories, but every time I look at one of my children, I am reminded that we are guided and we are protected, and I remember that there is hope for them.

    My children are doing well today. They are warm. They are sheltered from the rain and the wind and the cold. They have a roof over their heads, and a place to come home to every afternoon, a warm bed to sleep in every night. But your gifts have gone even further. My children now have hope for the future.

    My children will remember me as a mother who worked hard, a mother who never gave up. My children know that if they work hard, they, too, can grow up to be anything they want to be.

    When I began at Transitional Housing, I was a struggling parent, alone, overwhelmed and under-prepared, but you believed in me and convinced me I could succeed. Thank you for keeping my dream alive. Thank you for believing in me, and for never giving up on me. Bless you all.

    Heidi B.

  • Amy C.

     

    Dear Transitional Housing and Supporters:

    My name is Amy and I am the divorced and proud mother of three beautiful, diverse and challenging teenagers, ages 19, 18 and 15. My 18 year old recently departed for military service to serve our country. My other son and daughter have disabilities and continue to challenge me and remind me of what really matters-love, stability, family…

    My only financial means came from working full time after my divorce. Many of the challenges I faced at times seemed daunting and I felt vulnerable and alone on this journey of rediscovering and re-establishing myself, working full time and working hard, sometimes taking on cleaning jobs or assisting in my close friend’s day care. I was determined to make it happen for my family. I did not want to be statistic in the sense that I was another divorce casualty—having to relay on the system for assistance and dealing with the chaos of never knowing where our future may be directed. I was fully capable of pulling it off and I did just that. I was in charge of my own destiny.

    After years of having such low self esteem, it seemed like I had finally come into my own. I had forced myself to overcome obstacles I never before had overcome.

    My strength, confidence and self-sufficiency would eventually win the attention of someone who would forever change my life and the lives of my children.

    I was moving forward in a relationship that appeared to be loving, caring and trusting. It wasn’t to be and I found myself and my three children in an abusive situation that was beyond intolerable. I found myself making horrible decisions and losing myself to the young woman of long ago, whose self esteem and confidence did not exist.

    Then the worst raised its ugly head and I feared for my life. I had somehow found the courage to confide in a close friend. I had nowhere to go and on financial way of separating myself from the situation.

    My friend gave me a phone number. That one phone number would provide a direct link to numerous support systems to guide me through this difficult time. That number was for Transitional Housing. And so my journey began.

    Working together to help in renewing and rebuilding my life and my children’s, Transitional Housing and the Crisis Resource Center focused on providing a safe home, which included my first month’s and case management to ensure our safety and peace of mind in a world of uncertainty. That was only the beginning.

    The fear of the unknown, the fear of the challenges that lay before me were laid to rest time and time again. My caseworker and I would meet and she would listen to me, hold my hand, and be my support throughout. Resilient, she was instrumental in reinforcing the strength of a young woman that was there, that needed guidance. She would tell me, “Baby steps, Amy. Baby steps.” Little did I realize at the time, those baby steps in actuality were leading into giant steps toward goals I had thought were unattainable. She was guiding me toward a wonderful promising future. So here I am!

    Sincerely,
    Amy C.

  • Keri N.

     

    Dear Transitional Housing:

    My name is Keri. I am 29 years old. I have lived in Owatonna most of my life. I have three beautiful children, ages 11 and 5 1/2, and my littlest one who is almost 3. I work in Owatonna and until recently, was a student at Riverland Community College.

    I got sick in January of last year. I ended up getting a virus that attacked everything inside me and I ended up going into congestive heart failure. I was hospitalized for an extended time. I was unable to return to my apartment. I had to give that up. That’s how I ended up in Transitional Housing.

    I needed financial help to be able to provide a home for my kids and myself, and a safe place to call our own. I still have some days that are better than others. I still have days where I cannot get out of bed due to my heart. I am tired. I don’t feel good.

    Being sick is probably the hardest thing I ever had to go through. I am a single mom and my kids pretty much live with me full time. And being told that I couldn’t take care of them anymore was the most heart-breaking thing.

    I can’t even describe how good it makes me feel to know I don’t have to worry about it—that we have a safe place, a secure place and it’s always going to be that way.

    The counseling and training that I received from my case manager at Transitional Housing was invaluable. Before I began the program, I had no idea how I was going to make ends meet. I was fearful of the big step I was taking. The case manager advised me to take it one day at a time. She told me that I had overcome a big step and that I was strong enough to get through this. She helped me to achieve my goals. She never stopped believing in me.

    I have learned a number of skills through Transitional Housing. I learned budgeting and goal setting. I learn about debt payment, and money savings. I have been budgeting, paying rent on time, and saving money.
    Because of you, my children are not homeless.

    From time to time I wish I could visit my old self, the self that was sick in a hospital bed, and the self that did not know how I was going to take care of my kids…..I want to go back to visit my old self, just for a moment. I would like to tell my old self that everything was going to be alright, that I was going to get through it, that even though times would be difficult, there would be people along the way who would care and who would help, and that I would not be alone.

    Today, I am back at work full time, and the pieces of my life are falling back into place. I’m now hoping that with Transitional Housing, I can get back into school and get a degree. I can keep moving forward with my life, and improving the lives of my children. To all of the donors who have given my children a home, I say, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart—that we appreciate it more than you will ever know.”

    If you have it in you to give, there are people like my children and me who are at the receiving end of that, and we need it. I will never forget you and what you have done for my family. I will honor your generosity by passing it on to others. Thank you.

    Keri N.