Birch. Sequoia. Myrtle. Sage. Lily. Holly and Hope. We love flowers and trees
around here so much that we have named each of our transitional houses to match
a plant with a special meaning. For example, Lily’s full name is St. Joseph Lily House, reminding occupants that Joseph, who was engaged to Mary (the mother of Jesus) cared for an unwed pregnant woman. Lily House in fact is for pregnant women and new moms. The Lily flower always appears with images of Joseph.
In the Spring we always celebrate new beginnings and new life (along with beautiful flowers!). In fact, that’s what we do year-round. This year, we are also celebrating transitions. Of course, that big transition is our move to Fair Street and the opening of our newly expanded Sabbath House Shelter Program.
Transitions are nothing new for our participants. Unfortunately, change is part of life without a home. But we redefine transition as “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”. For our participants, transitions are good: a sign of new beginnings and new starts.
For some, a quick change from homelessness to housing is too much to take in at once. So, we focus on those who need a more gradual approach to regaining independence and permanent housing. Our process looks like this:
If a person is struggling on multiple levels, this incremental approach can offer more support and more patience. Since we have been talking shelter for months now, we thought we would share with you what happens for a person going from shelter to transitional house to permanent housing.
Here is a particularly illustrative story from one of our participants:
AN’s mother came and dropped her off. Her mother told us that we were the last chance that AN had. She had been through different rehabs, been institutionalized and was in and out of hospitals her whole life. Indeed, she was totally defeated by her addiction...you could see it in her eyes. We promised her mom that we would give AN a safe place to sleep that night and a warm meal the next morning. It wasn’t an easy journey for AN.
She was struggling with her mental illness from the first day she was here. She was not on any medication; she was drinking the dish soap and literally felt like her skin was crawling off her body. She was up almost every night with night terrors. She was just miserable. We kept showing her love. We moved the dish soap from her reach. We directed her to a place she could just sit if she was not able to sleep. Then time went on and she visited her doctor and got back on her meds. We cheered her on, listening and encouraging. She began to feel better, slept through the night, and started to give back. She worked in the kitchen and in the Free Store.
She was working on herself and started to love herself again. She decided to go back to school and enrolled at Butte College taking 14 units. She got through her first few weeks of school and let us know that it was hard to do school here at the Sabbath House Shelter, so we gave her an opportunity to move into our transitional housing program.
She moved into Holly House with the financial help of her parents. There she continued going to college and investing in her growth and in her recovery. She soon found out that she was pregnant, and we moved her over to Lily House. As she took in that she was soon to be a mom, her strength and growth came together by leaps and bounds. The young lady who had entered our shelter was now becoming a healthy independent woman.
Great news: AN is now living in her own apartment, landed a job and is looking forward to the arrival of her baby.
We invest in transitional housing and the support at the shelter because each human who comes to us needs an extra dose of support, love, and opportunity.
AN is such a great example of a strong independent woman now able to manage the responsibility of a household, a job and a family. Praise God.
Our shelter staff say it so well: “There are so many success stories from our program. These folks have no limits on what they are capable of. We have seen families reunited and children returned from the custody of child protective services back to the custody of the parent. People in our program have continued to stay clean and sober and work on their recovery. Others have started going to college. Babies are being born toxin-free. They are achieving their life goals; they are gaining full time employment. They are utilizing services to become healthy not only for their physical health but also for their mental health. They are finding their self-worth and a supportive community!”
Rejoice with us in new beginnings, transitions, flowers and new life!
Join us with a gift today. Why not join our monthly giving team, The Vine, with a 40th Anniversary gift of $40/ month? We would be so grateful to share your love with AN and the others working to develop their best life!
Laura R. Cootsona