A Resident's Story
, age 44, went to live with his brother after his wife left him. Several months later his brother suffered a stroke and had to move into a nursing home, and Grant was homeless. At his interview he was very reserved and quiet. Finally, with tears in his eyes, he told his caseworker that his life had been difficult from the start.
"At ten years old I watched my stepmother kill my father with a knife. It broke my heart and caused my childhood to be chaotic. I knew I wanted something different, and I figured I could have it if I worked hard and stayed out of trouble, and yet, here I am."
His caseworker encouraged him to not give up and to continue to follow his philosophy of hard work. Grant had a full-time job when he came to the Inn but didn't know how to manage his money. He attended our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University classes and learned how to budget his money. He also attended our computer literacy classes. Grant told the computer tutor, "This is amazing. I used to drive all the way to Arlington every month to make my car payment because I didn't know how to do it online. This class has saved me time and money!"
Grant only stayed with us for seven weeks before he found permanent housing, but he left with new skills and a new outlook on life. We celebrate Grant's graduation!
Kenneth is 21 years old and from Milwaukee. He had a friend that lived in Texas who urged him to join him here, and Kenneth did. Soon after Kenneth moved in with his friend, he discovered that the rent had not been paid for two months and so they were both evicted. Kenneth did not want to go back to Milwaukee in defeat, so he moved into The Samaritan Inn and vowed to find a way to make it in Texas . He attended our Job Readiness Program and two weeks later found a job. He told his caseworker he was now ready to move out. His plan was to go to an extended stay hotel until he had enough money saved for an apartment. Kenneth's caseworker told him this plan would surely result in him becoming homeless again. She suggested he stay at the Inn, attend our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University classes, and continue to save his money. Kenneth took her advice and now realizes it was the right thing to do. "You have to have emergency savings," Kenneth explained. "You just never know when you will need it."
Kenneth now has $600 in his emergency account. "You know," he says, "I was really scared when I came here, but I didn't want to give up. I am so grateful this program was in place, and because of it, I will never be in this situation again!"
I often hear from former residents who want to give me an update on their lives or just share an experience. Yesterday Deb wrote, "At my church, once a month they take a special offering for the food pantries, and I am going to start giving to that. I remember when I had to go to a food pantry to feed my child. When I told them there were two of us, they gave me a bottle of lemon pepper sauce for chicken, a can of chick peas, a can of tuna, and a loaf of bread. There is a large sign in the pantry that says you can't complain about what you get, so I didn't. Oh, I fried up the chick peas, and I used the tuna; spreading it out as thin as I could on the bread. When I went back the next week, I lied and said I had three children so I could get more food. I hated lying and I have asked God to forgive me, but I had to feed my child."
Poverty exists in Collin County. You may not see it on a regular basis but everyday someone is standing in line at a food pantry or hoping to get a spot at The Samaritan Inn. Hold them in your hearts.
Eva is 41 years old. She and her sons were living in public housing in Oklahoma but were evicted because her older children were not on the lease and, as such, not allowed to live there. Eva was at a loss as to what to do, but she finally decided to move to Garland, Texas where she had family. Her family was supportive, but they had no room for her and her five year old. They brought Eva to The Samaritan Inn, and she was not happy. In fact, her caseworker recalls her "kicking and screaming and insisting the Inn was not a safe place for her child." Eva's caseworker calmly outlined all of the safety precautions we have in place and told her about our many programs.
Eva has had many struggles throughout her life. She was a teen mother, she suffered from depression, and later addiction. She overcame her addiction issues but was never able to find a job that paid a living wage; in part because she did not have a high school diploma or any computer skills. Eva was immediately enrolled in our GED program and computer classes, and she is working diligently with her tutor. "This is the best I have ever felt about myself," Eva told her caseworker. "I think I can really do this, and I know it will change my future." Eva is also seeing our counselor for her depression issues, and her new medication is making a difference. Eva's caseworker says, "It has been amazing to see her transformation in just two months' time. She is truly putting in 100%, and I believe she has a bright future."
Anton is 39 years old. In high school he had a great deal of success playing basketball and football. After high school he continued to play, but when it became clear he was not going to be a professional athlete, he was at a loss as to what to do. He had no training or skills in any profession and so took any job he could find to simply get by. Because Anton had no plan, he rarely stayed at a job long and never had any savings. He lived with friends or girlfriends until they got tired of him and his inability to help pay the bills. Finally he started living in his car. The police gave him a ticket for vagrancy and impounded his car, and Anton came to The Samaritan Inn. Anton's caseworker told him it was time to stop living hand to mouth. He needed to find a career path and learn how to manage his money. Anton has done just that. He completed our Career Development Program and the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course. Anton now has a job and money in the bank and recently applied for a Gateway apartment. Anton says, "The Samaritan Inn gave me an opportunity to get my footing and become independent again."
Hazel is single and 52 years old. She has always been employed but rarely was able to save any money. She was also increasingly paranoid and unable to sleep. A doctor diagnosed her as bipolar and put her on medication. This immediately stabilized her, but she was still always living on the financial edge. Hazel decided the only thing to do was to take on a second job, but despite working seven days a week, she simply couldn't make it and lost her apartment.
Hazel entered The Samaritan Inn last November. Her program plan included weekly counseling and attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course and both helped her tremendously. Hazel's counselor suggested that never having a day off was not good for her mental health and urged her to find a job that provided her an adequate salary and some time off.
Hazel took her financial literacy training to heart and became a huge devotee of the "envelope system". After paying all of her bills, all extra money went into her Gateway envelope. Any shelter resident who wants to get into Gateway must have a full-time job and savings of at least $500, and Hazel was determined to get there. She moved into Gateway on May 14 and was absolutely thrilled and now has a new envelope for a home of her own!
Kathy is a 31-year-old single mom with a 4-year-old daughter. In January, her hours were significantly decreased at work, and she got behind on her bills. By April, she was evicted from her apartment, and on May 4 she came to The Samaritan Inn. A friend told her about The Samaritan Inn and at intake she said, "Maybe this is the place where I can finally get back on my feet."
Kathy is a nurse and has already found a full-time job, but her ability to manage her money has always been an issue. She is currently attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class, which is mandatory for all of our residents, and she is vowing to not make the same mistakes again. We have found time and time again that even degreed professionals can have problems with budgeting, but Kathy's caseworker feels she has finally figured it out. "She really is a pleasure to work with and has a positive outlook, and I really feel she will be successful in the future!"
Sarah, age 36, and her husband Dan, 36, came to the Inn on April 20 with their two sons who are 12 and 14.They became homeless after Dan lost his construction job and had been living in their car after money ran out for hotel rooms. At intake Sarah was in tears. "We have never had it this bad before," Sarah confided, "and I feel like we are failing our children." The intake caseworker reassured her that we could help. Sarah has already found a job and told the staff she is motivated and will do whatever it takes to care for her family. Dan is still seeking employment. Their sons attend counseling, as it is often difficult for kids to adjust to a community living facility, and Dan and Sarah are attending marital counseling. They are also both attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class so that they can learn to better budget their resources. Their caseworker says, "This truly is a great family. With our resources and support, they will be independent again soon!"
Sam is 43 years old and is from Frisco. He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was being treated for it when he lost his job and his wife asked him for a divorce. These factors caused him to have a significant setback, and he started to abuse drugs. Sam willingly went to rehab and was making progress when he fell and suffered significant memory loss. After a month of confusion at a hospital, he was discharged to The Samaritan Inn. His memory loss is still significant, but it is hoped that he will begin to regain some, if not all, of it. Sam attends weekly counseling and has started to repair his relationship with his ex-wife and their two teenage children. He also has found a job in a completely new field and is very encouraged by that. Sam regularly tells his caseworker, "I don't know where I would be without The Samaritan Inn." His caseworker acknowledges that he has a long road ahead but regularly tells him, "You don't have to do this alone, The Samaritan Inn is here for you!"
We include a story about one of our residents in this newsletter every week so that people will understand that homelessness is not just about statistics. It is about real people, with real lives. Yesterday, this was brought home to me once again by a note I received from Sarah Roth. Sarah is one of our dedicated Program Specialist and was working on Easter. Here is what she sent:
"Hello and Happy Easter: This morning one of the babies that lives at the shelter said her very first word at the Information Center (the station located in the center of our building). She was cooing and making noises when one of the other children said hello to her. She looked right at them and said "hello" back. Everyone cheered and she started to laugh and bounce around in her Mom's arms. It is easy to forget that sometimes our youngest residents have their first moments while living at The Samaritan Inn."
Thank you Sarah for helping us remember!
45, had used drugs for many years but he went through rehab and was doing his best to re-establish himself. When his roommate relapsed and returned to a life of drugs, Mike knew he had to move on, so he came to The Samaritan Inn in February. Mike completed our Career Development Program and found not one job but two; full-time and part-time. Mike's caseworker says, "He has had many struggles in his life but he is always positive and he is always grateful. He is now attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes and is active in his church's recovery program."
Mike will soon be moving into a Gateway apartment and says, "I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I love everyone at The Samaritan Inn for what they have allowed me to work on personally, financially, and emotionally."
, age 39, divorced seven years ago and was devastated. He struggled for quite a while but was just coming to terms with it when life threw him another curve ball. As part of company-wide layoffs, Graham lost his long-time job at a surveillance company and was evicted from his apartment. Graham stumbled between odd jobs and living in a hotel for almost a year. He finally thought his problems were over when he joined his stepbrother in a painting company and moved in with him, but that didn't work out for him either, and he finally wound up living under a bridge in Plano for several weeks. A police officer told him about The Samaritan Inn. Graham sees the Inn as a jumping off point for the rest of his life. He completed our Job Readiness Class and said it truly improved his attitude. He interviewed and received a job offer last week and started yesterday. "I am going to change from mere survival to actual living now," Graham told his caseworker.
, a widower, and his two teenaged children moved into The Samaritan Inn on February 1. Last year David's wife became gravely ill. He did everything he could to make sure she received care but after significant medical attention, she passed away.
The medical bills were daunting and David was only able to pay for her funeral by selling most of the families possessions. Placing pride aside, he took his brother's suggestion about coming to The Samaritan Inn. David says it has been very difficult working full time and raising his children without the support of his wife, while dealing with his own grief.
David's caseworker says, "Every meeting we have is about his children. It is critical to him that they are safe and adjusting to their new environment." The entire family attends weekly grief counseling and David recently started a new job.
"It's been a long road, but I have to get my family back on track," says David.
Terry and Janine
moved into The Samaritan Inn last month after having been evicted from their apartment. They had gotten themselves into a difficult financial situation and made it worse by going to a payday loan office and borrowing money. So often this appears to be a "quick fix" for people in trouble, but it inevitably compounds their problems. The couple was assigned a caseworker and a program was being put together for them, but it quickly became apparent they were not able to follow our rules.
All residents of The Samaritan Inn are expected to do daily chores and meet with their caseworker on a weekly basis. Classes (that are part of their program) are mandatory. Two weeks into their stay they had not completed their chores, had not attended classes, and broke curfew three times. At the weekly caseworker meeting, it was determined that this couple had not committed to our program, and they were asked to leave. We are always disappointed about situations like this, but the fact is, though we supply all the tools needed to re-establish independence, personal accountability is key and in this case, there simply was none.
At last week's gala, a seven-minute video was shown about Christina
, a graduate of The Samaritan Inn. Christina, mother of three boys, found herself homeless and sleeping in her car in the parking lot of a local Albertsons grocery store. On a whim, she went into The Samaritan Inn thrift store and noticed a sign that stated the store supported The Samaritan Inn. She asked our cashier, Janice, about our program and then went directly there to see if she and her sons could get in. Christina and her boys spent four months living at the Inn and then graduated to a transitional living apartment. Today Christina has a management job, her boys are happy and successful students, and she is fully independent. "The Samaritan Inn saved my life," Christina said. "In the video, I want to tell my story so people can understand it can happen to anyone like it happened to me."
We applaud Christina's strength and courage. The video will be on our website soon.
Henry and Stacy,
both age 30, and their daughters, ages 7 and 3, relocated to Texas from New York. They came in search of better jobs and planned to stay with Stacy's family. Space quickly became an issue when four more people were added to the home and tempers flared. The environment was unhealthy and Henry and Stacy felt they had to leave, but they couldn't afford a place of their own yet. A friend mentioned The Samaritan Inn, and they nervously applied for intake.
Stacy says, "I never imagined we would be in this situation, but I'm convinced my girls will be better off in Texas. In New York, the schools were failing and the neighborhood was full of gangs. I am so grateful this program is available because it has truly meant the world to my family."
Since their intake in early November, both Stacy and Henry have found full-time jobs. They have paid off their bills, established a budget, and are making good progress with their savings. They attend counseling sessions, parenting classes, and the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course. The girls are in school, read with the therapy dogs, take onsite art lessons, and are looking forward to our upcoming Valentine's party. Their caseworker says, "Both parents are actively working to improve their lives and giving 100%. I have no doubt that they will succeed."
The family recently appeared on camera to speak about their experiences at The Samaritan Inn to a reporter from Channel 47. This segment is scheduled to air tonight at 9pm.
Kevin and his wife and young daughter lived in Virginia. He completed five years in the Army and was preparing for the next phase of his life. Kevin's wife wanted to return to Texas, where she had family, so they made the move. Soon after arriving in Collin County, they had marital problems. Despite counseling, they divorced. Kevin's wife and daughter are now living with family, and Kevin entered The Samaritan Inn on December 31.
Kevin says that the cost of the divorce and the accompanying emotional impact is what made him homeless. He has already secured full-time employment and is saving every penny for a place of his own. He works diligently during the week, but spends every weekend with his daughter. Kevin has been seeing our counselor and attending the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course.
"I finally have a plan," Kevin told his caseworker, "and because I am here, I can see it come to pass. I really want to take advantage of this opportunity so I can get my own place and spend more time with my daughter."