Before Nicholas and his son, Nicholas Jr., came to Catholic Charities’ Family Service Center, they would spend nights in their car. When the car broke down, they would spend the nights riding the train, or crashing on the couches of willing friends.
It wasn’t the stable life Nicholas yearns to provide for his 7-year-old son, but he was doing the best he could. After a breakup and a job loss—and taking on full parenting responsibilities, Nicholas’ plate was full—and stressful.
Despite the setbacks of his life, Nicholas says fatherhood is nothing short of a blessing.
“He has been my light. I have been with him since the day he was born. I didn’t have anyone to encourage me along the way and I want that for him. I want to make sure that I instill in him what it is to be a great man with responsibilities.”
It has been about one year since Nicholas had keys to his own home.
“I was in a relationship and it crashed. I lost my job and after that it was just kind of a domino effect. Every door closed. It was just a dark state,” Nicholas said.
With his son by his side, Nicholas is enjoying better days, and looking forward to the day they will walk through the door of their new home. They are content and thankful to have a safe, secure place to stay while they search.
At Family Service Center, the father and son share a room, and are served hot meals in the dining room. Catholic Charities and Ramsey County staff help connect families to resources they need to find their next home. According to Ramsey County policy, families may stay at the shelter for up to 120 days.
“Being homeless, your mind just rambles on things like what you would like to do. Cooking, cleaning, decorating. I just want a place to call home,” he said.
In the summer months, Nicholas Jr. attended programming at the Boys and Girls Club, while his dad searched for a home. He also attends a men’s group at the YWCA. They would often make trips to the park to play and find community events to attend.
With school in full swing, the bus picks Nicholas Jr. up from Family Service Center and takes him to his second grade classes. With a quiet smile, he mentions how he wants to be able to invite friends over to play.
With Nicholas Jr. in school, his dad has more time to search for a home and look for a job. He has experience working as a forklift driver and machine operator, but until he has a home and childcare lined up, finding work is difficult when parenting alone.
Nicholas doesn’t intend to quit pushing after he finds a job. He intends to earn a college degree so he can go even further and be a positive example for his son.
“From birth, he has been my reason to not give up and to go the distance. Love and affection is important and to have that from a dad is a gift I want to give my son.”
Thanks to Family Service Center and your support, Nicholas believes these goals are attainable.
“I feel like I’m on the right path. I was a bit ashamed to come here, but I am able to have peace of mind and he’s comfortable,” he said. “The people here, they’re always giving me hope. I am thankful to have my son and I am thankful for the opportunity.”