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.