HERE ARE JUST A FEW OF OUR MANY
Rocio is a young mother in her early twenties who arrived at our family shelter program with her three-year old daughter. It was mid-winter, cold and dark outside and the small child had been crying fitfully as they sat down in the office to complete our intake form. Homeless for months, Rocio finally visited the Department of Transitional Assistance office in Salem, where placement began for our Bridge House family shelter. The mother and daughter were hungry, tired and anxious—Rocio was struggling with anxiety and depression due to the stress of single parenting along with having no place to call home.
During Rocio’s stay with us, she availed herself of every program offered: parenting classes, daycare for her daughter, a developmental play group and mental health counseling for both mom and daughter. Rocio did all she needed to do, including losing more than 40 pounds through good, healthy exercise, which boosted her self-confidence, helping her transform into a strong advocate. Rocio literally won the lottery while in Lynn Shelter Association’s capable hands, receiving one of just five available Massachusetts Rental Vouchers for families with barriers to housing. Rocio quickly settled into her new home and landed a job which she loves, becoming self-reliant and able to care for her little girl the way families do.
The first day we met Randy—a tall man, young and very handsome man—he was profoundly drunk. He had lived on the streets for several years and was known as part of the “dirty dozen” in Lynn, a group of street homeless who cost the City and taxpayers police time and emergency room visits. It took Randy a year to turn his life around for the better. With the news that he was to be a father, he abruptly quit drug use and drinking and encouraged his girlfriend to quit as well. He came to Lynn Shelter Association clean and sober and ready to do the work required to move up and on, and fought for custody of his infant while beating his demons. He battled loneliness, depression and withdrawals but despite this hardship began attending community college, where he received straight As and eventually was reunited with his daughter. They now live together in their own city apartment.
Sheila Maiben lives at the Osmund. She dropped her bags on the floor of her room the first day, found herself a support group meeting and since then has not faltered once in her recovery. Over the years, Sheila has sponsored several young people from Project Cope and Ryan House. This is her way of paying forward. For Sheila, the path is clear—“I can’t let my past own me”—and she moves forward with purpose. Sheila has overcome barriers to housing and worked to meet every challenge presented. Aware of her family tendency toward depression, she works each day on the issues life brings and accepts her responsibility for the path she walked and the new path she has chosen. She’s found her way and helps others to find theirs, too.
Ms. Maiben is studying now for her GED and would love to become a substance abuse counselor. In her own words, “When one door opens, the next one closes and you sometimes have to wait in the hallway.” She’s willing to wait because she knows that eventually she will, “with God’s help,” be able to continue the journey. Her sense of accountability and her capacity to face the past assure us that Ms. Maiben will not wait in the hallway for very long.