At Hope Street, Ashleigh built a stable foundation

Ashleigh hates Valentine’s Day. She spent the holiday not feeling loved, standing out in the sub-zero cold outside of her sister’s home after they had a fight and she was kicked out. Ashleigh wasn’t in proper gear for Minnesota winters and she had bronchitis. It was a scary, cold, miserable and sad day.

That’s where her homelessness story begins. 

As holidays go, Ashleigh has a new appreciation for Labor Day. She spent Labor Day weekend moving into a home of her own, a one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Downtown Minneapolis. Her new place has big windows, wood floors and walls she’s so excited to decorate. 

 That’s where her new story begins.

Roots

Ashleigh, 20, was once a kid moving back and forth between her mom in Minnesota and her dad in Ohio. She went to elementary school here and attended part of high school here until she moved with her dad in Ohio. Ashleigh briefly attended college in Ohio, but came back to Minnesota to attend Aveda Institute and pursue her dream of one day running a salon and day spa. She stayed with her sister until things turned sour that February day. Her grandma in Ohio called a car service to get Ashleigh to her mother’s home in Stillwater. 

She was out of the cold, but could no longer catch a bus to get to her job at a Minneapolis restaurant or go to school. There were seven people in a small apartment and there often was not enough food to go around. Ashleigh said her mother is verbally abusive and struggles with mental illness. She needed to get out but with a low credit score, no job and few resources, Ashleigh was unable to find a home on her own. She called the YMCA looking for help. Through the Y, she found Hope Street. 

Coming to Hope Street

Ashleigh came to Catholic Charities’ Hope Street Shelter on February 23 and has been working to build her life ever since. Hope Street not only provided food to eat and a bed to sleep in, but case management, connections to resources and the sense that people truly care about her wellbeing. 

Ashleigh clearly remembers her first day at the shelter. “I didn’t have anything to do that day, but I made sure I found something to do the next day,” she said. Youth at Hope Street Shelter stay the night, but are required to have something constructive to do during the day, such as go to work or school. 

“Hope Street has helped me a lot. Michele is the G.O.A.T.,” Ashleigh laughed, referring to Michele Hickman, the program manager at Hope Street as the greatest of all time. 

“She’s there to talk to anytime I need someone to talk to,” Ashleigh said. She was still wrapped up in a blanket, having just gotten out of bed. Ashleigh works overnights stocking shelves at a big box discount store in Roseville. The nights are made longer because she must take a bus from Minneapolis to Roseville. She doesn’t complain about her schedule. She works toward better days. 

Building a foundation

At Hope Street, Ashleigh was able to regroup, find a job and a stable home for her to live. Hope Street staff helps youth find resources and programs that fit with individuals’ needs. Ashleigh’s apartment was secured through the Oasis Program. The Oasis program  will assist with rent for two years while Ashleigh works to build a strong foundation. She’s hoping to furnish her home with the help of Bridging. 

With the stability of a safe place to stay, Ashleigh is preparing to return to Aveda Institute. She is looking forward to decorating her apartment as she’s imagined for so long—and she’s working toward her dreams. 

“I am thankful God gave me my life. Life is full of ups and downs, but I would never trade it,” she said. “I would never take it away.”

Jessica Foster
Jessica Foster
Writer, Multimedia Specialist at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis

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