One day Caroline woke up and she knew it was over. The abusive relationship had to stop. It was the right decision, it likely saved her life, but she lost her home and all her possessions. She didn’t realize it at the time but she also lost a piece of herself that day and life was going to get harder.
For months Caroline travelled from shelter to shelter, trying to find a safe place to sleep. She needed a place to rest and heal but everywhere she ended up was chaotic, temporary and filled with other people’s problems. She could feel herself spiraling down to a dark place.
One evening, after a dinner she met with a housing worker she grew to like and trust. There was a spot at Homes First. The housing worker asked Caroline, “When could you realistically move in?”, “How about now!” she replied ecstatically.
They got the paperwork in order. The move into what Caroline called her “palace”, happened the next day. Unlike the shelter, she now had her own things like a TV, cupboards for food, a comfortable bed and a door with a lock. While privacy and quiet was something she longed for and now valued like a family heirloom, Caroline also knew that to succeed in this new environment she needed friends. She didn’t want to continue on this journey on her own.
Reesa lived in the other half of Caroline’s apartment. They each had their own small bedroom and shared a kitchen, bathroom and living space. Reesa and Caroline soon shared housekeeping, shopping and household chores. One mopped, the other swept. They shared puzzle books, novels, dvds and TV time. They also shared their stories, cautiously revealing to one another the hurts, trauma, abuse and bad luck that led them to this place. Caroline and Reesa grew into close friends and allies.
Thanksgiving, a significant family holiday, loomed on the horizon of Caroline’s new life. The past few Octobers she tried her best to ignore the day and all its expectation of happy families and abundance. But she was in a new, better place now. She decided to do something nice for her friend.
Caroline went to a nearby food bank and got a turkey, gravy, cranberries and peas. She spent what little money she had on the remaining food including the ingredients for a pumpkin pie. Reesa was delighted and so grateful to her friend. This was their first dinner party in their apartment. Now it really felt like home.
Thanks to Homes First, Caroline can have dinner with a friend. Without a safe place to call home, holidays like Thanksgiving can be a painful reminder of a life lost or denied.
Celebrate what it means to have a “home” and support more people like Caroline.
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