Linda and Joselyn – Ready for a Change!
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough.
Richard M. DeVos
Linda* had been homeless for over 4 ½ years, living and sleeping in her car. She has limited mobility, often unable to walk without the use of a cane. Likewise, Linda’s granddaughter Joselyn*, who lives with her, has spent half her young life living in a car. Linda was determined to care for Joselyn the best she could. Linda’s only means of support for herself and Joselyn has been a monthly disability check, which barely makes ends meet each month – and that’s WITHOUT housing expenses. For nearly five years, Linda has had no hope of accruing the first and last month’s rent and move-in deposit needed to move into a home of her own. She freely admitted she was defeated, having no faith she would ever be able to live in a home again. She had spent so long in her car, it had become a safe place because it was familiar, even while having to stay awake all night to keep watch over Joselyn, sleeping only during the day while she was in school.
When Linda came to HHH, the first barrier she needed to overcome was a lack of trust in those who wanted to help. She had been offered assistance many times before, but it never changed her thought that her car was the best place for her and Joselyn. We offered a stay in an emergency home with the suggestion that, even if she preferred sleeping in her car because that was what she was accustomed to, the driveway would be safer than a parking lot. She agreed, but was very skeptical.
The only thing we initially asked Linda to do was text Lisa, her case manager, every morning for the first week to let us know she was okay. For three days, Linda sent Lisa one text each morning. As time progressed, Linda revealed more about her life’s struggles, uncovering unhealthy thoughts, fears, and barriers she was finally ready to address. More importantly, she began to see Joselyn thrive! At school, at home, in relationships with others – she was doing great! Linda hadn’t considered what living in a car was doing to Joselyn. She began texting Lisa more often as a means of holding herself accountable to get her “to do” list done, one step at a time. Lisa encouraged Linda every day, even when the big picture of success seemed overwhelming. Linda had more struggles in her first month with HHH, including a hospital stay with a bout of pneumonia, her daughter’s attempted suicide, and the challenges of finding her new home. With the consistent encouragement and support provided by HHH, despite all obstacles, Linda found the perfect apartment within Joselyn’s school district. HHH helped Linda secure her new home with financial assistance provided through our Rapid Rehousing Program.
Today, Linda and Joselyn are doing great. With housing no longer an issue, Linda has become more active in her church, is beginning to address some of her health concerns, and has a new job on the horizon. Joselyn is thriving at school, joining after-school clubs, and making friends like never before. They have a roof over their heads, furniture, food, and each other.
Linda knows when she walks into the Helping Hand House office she is greeted with hugs and smiles from the whole staff. She knows when life seems overwhelming, we are just a text away with a reminder to put one foot in front of the other.
We rejoice with Linda and Joselyn!
*Names have been changed.