For Vonda and her children, homelessness started on a wet Louisiana evening more than one year ago.
“My mom threw us out when it was raining at night—threw our things out on the grass,” 24-year-old Vonda recalls, her memories of that fateful night as clear as her motivation to not let family history repeat itself.
She headed north to put distance between her and a life of struggles. She has an aunt in Minnesota, so it seemed a good place to start.
“I didn’t think I’d amount to anything if I stayed there,” she said. Despite the pain of leaving, she says it worked for the best.
“It pushed me harder to find stability on my own,” she said. “I want a better environment for my kids. I want positive vibes.”
Since coming to Catholic Charities’ Family Service Center this summer, life is heading in a positive direction. Vonda became a student at St. Paul College, starting her educational journey to become a clinical psychologist.
Jaden is thriving in his first grade class, though he doesn’t like to tell other kids he stays in a shelter. He looks forward to having a home soon, so he can invite friends over to play with him.
Kaison goes to daycare and celebrated his first birthday at Family Service Center. Vonda was thankful cake was served in his honor, but it was hard to not be able to bake a cake and buy gifts for her son’s birthday.
“Family Service Center has given me peace of mind. It gave me a stable home so I could go to school and take care of my kids,” she said.
While she is still struggling, Vonda knows her hard work will pay off.
“My ultimate goal is to own a home so my kids never have to be on the streets ever again. I just want them to be happy,” she said. “My life was not good at all. Kaison won’t remember being in a shelter, and I’m thankful for that. Jaden will remember, but he will know he has a strong mother. It’s going to teach him to never give up because it always gets better.”
Days are busy for Vonda’s family, but she is committed to stay on her education plan. Taking semesters off in times of crisis is not a luxury she has.
“I can’t afford to lose time. I don’t have anybody to help me. It’s just me and I want to be able to provide for my children,” she said. “I want to be able to live without assistance. I’m really appreciative of the help I’m getting, but I want to be able to live without it.”
While staying at Family Service Center, staff helped her connect with community resources. Vonda has been working with YWCA and hopes to be in an apartment before the holiday season.
Last year, the family was couch hopping at Christmastime. This year, she is already thinking about the food she’d like to cook for the holidays.
“I want a safe and homey place, a family place,” Vonda said. “It doesn’t have to be big, as long as I have my own place. I just want wait to wake up in the morning and cook my own breakfast.”