On her very last night staying in the women’s shelter at Dorothy Day Center, Loretta was thinking about cooking dinner.
“I’m going to make some pork steak, cabbage, corn bread and macaroni,” she said with a smile.
While she’s always appreciated having food to eat at Dorothy Day Center, she has not enjoyed the simple luxury of choosing and cooking her own food for a long time.
Her new home on the fourth floor at Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul will bring that simple luxury back to her life, and so much more.
“I’m excited to move in because it’s a place to call home. I’ll have a key to turn. I haven’t had a home of my own for four years,” she said.
Excitement was in the air that last night at Dorothy Day Center as the old mats were set out on the floor. As they were going out, Loretta and Terrie Green, a client advocate at Dorothy Day Center spontaneously started to dance on the floor. Loretta spent many nights sleeping on those mats before moving upstairs to the women’s shelter, but she won’t complain.
“I take all negativity and turn it into a positive. The floor was somewhere for me to sleep. I didn’t have anyplace to go,” she said. “Being homeless, you learn to be grateful for the small things and you learn to be grateful for other people.”
She even became grateful for rules.
When entering the shelter doors, everyone must blow into a breathalizer. Coming in sober meant she didn’t have to sleep in detox. It helped motivate Loretta to seek outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.
“I spent 26 years drinking—I started when I was only 14—now I haven’t had a drink in four months,” she said. “Dorothy Day Center played a part in me not drinking alcohol. It’s not all bad.”
She says she’s proud of herself for making wise decisions which have brought about positive change in her life. She’s proud of her three kids, who she talks to each and every day. Her oldest is a sophomore at St. Cloud State University. He’s there on a football scholarship and last year won the Heart of a Viking award and was honored at a Viking’s game. That meant talking about the challenges of his childhood with an alcoholic mother, tough things for a mom to hear, but she beams with pride at how far he has come.
Loretta will say life is good now, but she’s looking forward to even better days. Now that she has that key to turn and a kitchen to cook in, Loretta is looking to find even more positivity. She’s planning to attend GED preparation classes. When done, she’s planning on earning a cosmetology degree.
“Robots can’t do hair,” she laughs. “That’s job security right there.”