Many firsts happen at Catholic Charities’ Family Service Center. One of those firsts will rise above all else for parents Patience and John.
It’s where their daughter, Ella, took her first steps. Soon after, Ella, 15 months, was regularly seen walking down the halls at Family Service Center. Her sneakers lighting up with every step.
“It was very emotional for my family,” John said while feeding his young daughter some snacks on a chilly autumn day.
The family lost their home at the end of June when their landlord decided to renovate and rent for higher rates. Patience and John had done work for their landlord. They not only lost their home, but a source of income. Combined with a medical leave for Patience, the couple struggled to find a place to call home.
Family Service Center was a blessing
The family came to Family Service Center in the late afternoon hours of August 2. They remember that day, coming in tired and hungry and being greeted with a tray of food after missing lunch.
“Emotionally and spiritually, God blessed me here,” Patience said.
Patience, who suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other challenges, said she quickly noticed how clean the shelter is. She is not alone. About 64 percent of adults experiencing homelessness report having a serious mental illness, according to Wilder Research.
Before coming to Family Service Center, Patience and John had been living in their car and couch hopping when possible. In their transition period, Patience worried everything was dirty and wouldn’t set her baby down. Ella was always held. That day at Family Service Center, Patience finally felt comfortable putting her down and Ella immediately started to take steps.
Patience and John started taking steps that day, too.
“You learn a lot here if you use the tools they give you,” John said.
Patience said she is feeling better physically and mentally. John has a job and is carefully saving their money.
The family, including Patience’s school-age son, have made friends at Family Service Center. They developed a sense of community, with little girls knocking on their door early in the morning asking Patience to do their hair for school. The couple is working toward a more healthy lifestyle, eating healthful meals served in the dining room. They are working to save money and gaining skills to help them achieve and maintain stability.
A place to call home
“We got a place to call home. It’s not easy to call it home, but it is,” Patience said.
When we talked, the family had been accepted into a housing program, but were waiting for a home to come available. They dreamed of having a yard where they can plant strawberries, carrots, basil and other herbs. They talk about cooking their favorite foods, including peanut butter soup.
“We want a place of our own,” John said. “We’ll get there. For now, we’re here. We’re home.”
In the early days to December, the little family enjoyed seeing their dreams come true as they moved out of Family Service Center and into a house they now call home.