If you meet Rosie, she’ll likely have a big smile on her face. She’ll instantly make you feel happy. She will inspire you.
Rosie, 51, lives on the fourth floor of Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul, though she’s most often outside moving, as long as her knees cooperate.
“When they took me to my room…it was so beautiful I did want to cry,” she said. Her accommodations at Higher Ground Saint Paul top her old stomping grounds in the women’s program at Dorothy Day Center, but she never complained.
“I called it the penthouse! It was the top floor,” she joked. “It didn’t matter that I was in a shelter. I said I got God on my side so I’m okay. I appreciate my room. ”
Rosie’s life has seen major changes in the last five years. She came into homelessness because she needed to get out of a relationship and suffered a knee injury. While she had spent more than 30 years helping people as a Personal Care Assistant (PCA), she couldn’t do the work with her injury. Despite the relationship, career and physical losses, Rosie has been working to take charge of her life and rather than counting hardships, counts victories.
To date, she has lost 227 pounds and 173 inches. She is working her way back to health and independence.
How is she doing it? Rosie credits faith, determination, food choices, Zumba and the YMCA she’s able to attend thanks to their scholarships program. Rosie also goes on long walks, counting her steps every day. She doesn’t have a step tracker, she literally looks at her feet and counts each step they take.
A recent victory, Rosie was one of the charter members of the Mile in My Shoes team at Higher Ground Saint Paul. When she got up for her first 6 a.m. run, she had doubts she could finish her first mile. After she had run, she was excitedly talking about the next time she could do it again. She’s already planning to participate in the Minneapolis Aquatennial Torchlight 5K.
She’s conquering other challenges, too. While Rosie said she never liked school, she’s now enrolled in Adult Basic Education classes at the Hubbs Center. With the weight gone, she’s saving her money to go on rides at Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Universe, now that she can finally fit on them.
While Rosie is enjoying the changes she’s seeing in her appearance, she’s hoping these life changes she’s making truly pay off with good health and the ability to maintain independence in a home of her own.
“I really want to work in here to change my life. The staff here has been so great,” she said. “Everybody has tried to help me. Everybody here is just good people.”
She’s given herself a one year deadline to move out of Higher Ground Saint Paul and into her own place. Two years after that? She’s determined to become a Catholic Charities’ employee.
“I can’t stay here. I have to move on because I’m on a journey,” she said. “I’m getting my life back. I am healthy, happy and stronger than ever. Whether my knee is messed up or not, I still want to work.”