I did not choose to be homeless.
I started working at age 11, went to college, got a degree, and had a successful career. I never thought I would be homeless. In fact, I was one of those people who thought of homelessness as someone unwilling to work.
Unfortunately, my personal life was not good. I had a very difficult childhood and suffered ongoing abuse from the relationships I had.
At the age of 63, I was forced to make an impossible decision – risk the likelihood of homelessness to survive or stay and face the consequences. I chose to get out.
Initially, for several months, I leaned on the support of people in my safety net, couch surfing when needed. I knew that if I worked hard, I would be able to pull myself out, but in reality, my safety net ran out quicker than my ability to rebound. Emotionally, I felt scattered, defeated, and ashamed. I kept asking myself, “What am I doing here? How did this happen?”
My life changed when I came to The Sophia Way. They gave me a home base that helped me realign my life. They made me feel safe and warm, which helped in reversing the effects of sleep deprivation. I could go to work every day knowing that I had a supportive place to be and a secure place to keep my things, eat, shower, and sleep. As I began to heal and feel my foundation returning, amazing things began to happen.
The brilliance of The Sophia Way goes far beyond the things they provide. It is their people, who devote their lives to helping people like me, who are simply amazing. My case manager, Dietra Clayton, is one such person. She is like a triage nurse, an air traffic controller, a therapist, and a human bulldozer. At our first session, Dietra led me through a process where I began to understand how I became homeless and how I could prevent it from happening again.
It was the greatest gift I could have received.
Getting housing was a long and difficult process. Do you know how challenging it is to get a house for anyone making less than $30/hour? Do you know how many denials of applications you have to go through? It’s such a frustrating process. I would get a call from Dietra about a possible rental unit and would have to run to get the application in. However, by the time I would get to the manager, the unit would have already been rented out. Every time I did this, I risked losing my job.
I would not be housed if it wasn’t for Dietra’s advocacy and tenacity. She gave me the strength and resilience to overcome all obstacles. She kept me going. I am now in school, studying to be a human resources manager. One day, soon, my subsidized apartment can go to another person in need.
“My ask of you is the same as what I ask of myself.
– Be there for those who need you.
– Don’t judge people.
– See people experiencing homelessness as neighbors, not criminals or worthless people.
– Remember that they have a powerful story to share that we all need to be willing to hear.”