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Brighter Days Ahead!

Nicole and familyAs a single mother with no car, Nicole was used to challenges: balancing work life, where jobs have to be reachable by bus (with hours while the bus runs), with taking care of her family, meant hiring a babysitter when her children were younger.  Nicole’s budget was always tight, and by the time her kids were teenagers, she was managing month-to-month with no savings when she found herself facing homelessness—not for the first time—with her family.  But thanks to your help, Nicole’s future looks very different from her past.

Looking back on her experience now, Nicole reflects: “Haven House is the nicest shelter I ever had to stay at.  Everyone is very friendly, and they are helping to guide you to meet your goals to get out of the shelter.”   

Early last year, Nicole called Haven House and explained her situation: another agency was temporarily assisting her family with somewhere to stay, but their time was limited there, and she needed help making a plan to find something more than emergency shelter—she was trying to find a home where she could bring her kids, who were now well aware of the precarious time they were going
through together.

Nicole’s relief was cautious when she was told there was a place at Haven House for her.  Even though she felt welcomed when she arrived, she was still worried about what would happen now—where would her family end up next?

Thanks to the support of community members like you, at Haven House Nicole found a support system. 
Each day during her stay in our shelter, she took steps—with the support and guidance of our staff—to move toward her permanent housing goals.  This included increasing her income, refining her household budget planning, and applying to rentals within her reach. It was a lot to tackle at once. But now she did not have to face the obstacles alone.

Some of Nicole’s many small steps toward her goal of reaching a home included fixing an error with her food stamp account, proving her eligibility for cash assistance, and submitting an updated Medicaid enrollment for one of her children. Nicole was able to get those crucial tasks completed with the assistance of Haven House and Dept. of Health and Human Services staff working collaboratively, so Nicole could get the help she needed.  Besides accomplishing steps like these, including assessing local rentals’ suitability for her family and fit with her budget, Nicole felt like she was moving along a learning curve of how to stay ahead of issues affecting her finances. She was planning for the future more than she ever had. Nicole was overjoyed when she finally got the keys to her own townhouse rental, on a bus line and all.  She was finally taking her kids home—and there, the learning curve and hard work didn’t end. There were utility bills to pay, children to be clothed, and plenty of expenses besides rent that food stamps don’t cover.  Through Haven House’s Partners-in-Progress program, Nicole has been learning how to better manage her bills and stay on top of them, while exploring goals for the future.  Each month Haven House’s Housing Resource Specialist, Pam Young, helps Nicole refine and track her goals. Pam also delivers some household essentials like cleaning products which have been donated to Haven House, to help defray Nicole’s costs as she gains financial stability.

Starting this year, 2021, Nicole is beginning a new job. She and her children feel at home, and now Nicole is able to teach her children what she’s learned, and ways they can help themselves in their own futures as adults. Seemingly small things, such as turning off the lights and electronics when not in use, to tactics for planning important purchases, Nicole is eager to transmit her knowledge and enthusiasm to her kids. As Nicole says, “They need to learn the value of keeping bills under control, and that is my job to teach them.”

Continuing to reflect on a tumultuous year, with emotional ups-and-downs, Nicole is grateful for the help she received at Haven House: “Pam always let me know that she believed in me and offered her help and knowledge of how to move forward … I am now in a great place emotionally and I have a new job starting and I know I can take care of my kids and keep them in housing.  I can move forward. I feel reborn and brand new. Thank you Haven House.”
If you are interested in learning more about how your involvement with Haven House impacts the lives of local families like Nicole’s, please contact info@havenhouseel.org or visit us online at havenhouseel.org

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