By Intake Case Manager Holly Gardner
This is my first winter working in my capacity as an intake specialist. There is always a sense of urgency when you are working with homeless families, but it really intensifies as the temperatures drop, becoming more deadly, and our volume of calls and referrals increase.
With this in mind I wanted to highlight our newest family to move in. A mom who is in her 3rd trimester of pregnancy, a dad and their two 10 year old sons. For the last few weeks they have been living in a vehicle on and off.
How does a family go from having close family ties, community supports, income and some security to living in their vehicle? These are sometimes complex answers.
This dad’s complicated history includes being jailed for unpaid child support for a son he actually has custody of. During this time, he lost the apartment that he had been renting for over 2 years. Although very fit and healthy, he is finding it challenging to find a job with a felony on his record.
Mom's history includes fleeing a violent ex, receiving counseling for related issues and choosing to move away from an unhealthy support system even if it means entirely rebuilding her life.
Needless to say, after I move a family in, our employment coach, family coach and family therapist have their work cut out for them. It isn't easy to connect with a new family, “meet them where they are”, and encourage them on their journey to remove barriers find a new home and a new start. Housing is our priority and we work as a team to help ensure the most successful transition from our program to what truly will be a permanent home.
The gratitude parents share with me is hard to explain. It is warmth like no other.
This family explained how having a simple meal together in their dining room with their two boys seated together was what they were looking forward to the most. This is a small gesture that many families may take for granted. A meal together, seated at the same table, and how that moment is what inspires them to keep moving forward.
As I drove home Friday to my elderly dad and husband, my mind was on this family and their evening together. We also had our dinner together that very chilly night and I gave my thanks that we had one less family sleeping outside in these bitter conditions.
We know there is one more family with hope again, a plan and supportive staff ready to greet them Monday morning. I know our work with this family has only begun, but making it to this stage from their life on the streets in the heart of winter feels like such an accomplishment. It is truly warming.