“I was sitting on a bench crying because I didn't know where we were going to go that night.”
Leor lost her home when her husband passed away last June. She and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Marissa, roomed with her sister for a few months, but there were issues with that apartment, and ultimately, Leor and her daughter wound up with nowhere to go. That was September last year. Leor said, “I was sitting on a bench crying because I didn’t know where we were going to go that night. I called everyone and they were all booked. My last call was UGM, and I left a message. They called me back and said, ‘Of course we have room for you.’”
A holistic approach
What UGM recognizes is that people in crisis need more than food and shelter in order to rebuild their lives; they need time in a safe community where they can get out of “survival mode”, they need to feel respected, they need individualized case management, and many need relational and spiritual support as well. Leor received all of this and more at the UGM Crisis Shelter.
A safe, healing community
“When we got here, at first it was hard for my daughter. We had lived out in Chattaroy/Deer Park area where there was a lot of space, and she knew everybody all the way from preschool to 8th grade. So, starting a new school has been hard for her, but the people here have been amazing. The staff members have become like family members. Whenever she has had a problem with panic attacks or being sick, they have opened their arms to her.”
“I am treated like an individual person and set up for success.”
Personal space and dignity
“Another thing that gave my daughter comfort is that we have our own room. I think she assumed that we would be in bunk beds with a bunch of people. Knowing that we have our own space she can go in and close the door, and she doesn’t have to worry about anybody else. And I have not felt that I have been put into a category or group. I am treated like an individual person and set up for success.”
Case management and career preparation
After a few weeks settling in at the Shelter, Leor and Marissa were assigned a case manager. “I was doing everything trying to get into my own place, but everything kept falling through. I had been talking about going back to school; I used to do medical assisting.” Leor had been a stay-at-home mom for the past 13 years and spent much of that time taking care of her dad, and then she took care of her husband when he became ill. She’s a hardworking woman, but she’s not technically qualified to get a job that pays much more than minimum wage. “[In case management], I talked about going back to school, and they just had started a career prep program here this year. My case manager said, ‘Why don’t you see about joining that.’ I said okay and that was my sign. I started school just this month.” She plans to be an Occupational Therapy Assistant which will provide what she and Marissa need to afford a place of their own. “The thing that I really appreciated is that there is a path for me.”
Leor says it’s been good to see her daughter find hope again, but more than anything, it’s been good to be in a place where the two of them can start to heal. “[Marissa] has had a lot of not knowing what she wants to do and feeling kind of lost because she was close to her dad. This is close to the first birthday without him. We’ve started the parenting class here, and they’ve given us so many tools for communicating. While her dad was sick, I was in the hospital with him a lot and she was staying with family and friends. She was feeling a little abandoned and the distance between us has grown, so we have been getting back to that parent/child role.”
“My faith was lost at one point, but being here I have regained my faith and my spirituality has gotten so much better.”
Spiritual and social support
Although our Christian faith is never forced, we believe there is no greater comfort than the nearness of God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Residents are introduced to the teachings of Jesus, and prayer and Bible study are made available to all who are interested. “My faith was lost at one point, but being here I have regained my faith and my spirituality has gotten so much better. I feel so much closer, and having access to people that we could go to for advice—they are so open to guiding or just being there for prayer or a hug—it’s been awesome. I’m so thankful.”
“A lot of people think that if you are homeless, it is because you did something to be homeless. It doesn’t have to be that you were addicted. Life happens. But it’s hard to put your pride aside and say that you need help. Even after I got here, I was kind of closed off. I was trying to do everything on my own. My case manager helped me saying, ‘Let’s try this.’ You have to put your pride aside and let it fall into place. I am so happy that I made the choice to come here. This is where I need to be to get back on track and be successful to leave and know that I can succeed on my own.”
It’s taken courage and faith, but Leor has trusted the process and is paving a path to success for herself and her daughter.
An invested community
Through our partnership with the community, we get to serve nearly 3,000 men, women and children in need of holistic care and restoration every year. People like Leor are able to pave a permanent pathway out of homelessness because, through your support, we don’t stop at just meeting the physical needs; we provide for the mental, spiritual, and emotional needs as well.