The Haven's Greatest Gift
Ginny and her two children, ages five and eight, moved out of the Haven’s Byrne Family Shelter in early November after a two-month stay. Now, Ginny is renting a two-bedroom unit in an apartment complex that she researched and decided would be ideal for her family. This is just one of the near-term goals Ginny set for herself and accomplished this fall.
Ginny became homeless this year when the relationship with her children’s father ended. On days when she didn’t have her kids, she stayed in her car. When her children were with her, she rented an inexpensive hotel room so they would have a comfortable place to be. But this was hard and impractical on her budget.
Every guest who stays in the family or adult shelters at the Haven needs different forms of support. Some need help filling out paperwork and navigating state and federal bureaucratic systems. Others need assistance or referrals relating to housing, health problems, transportation, child care or school issues, or emotional trauma.
Ginny was unique because she did most of the work she needed to do on her own. “She was always two steps ahead of us,” says Meghan Paulette, a service coordinator who has worked closely with Ginny. “With positive encouragement from us, Ginny was able to overcome barriers and reach her goals. Sometimes guests are wary and reluctant to fully embrace all the kinds of help we offer at the Haven. Ginny understood intuitively what we want all shelter guests to know: that we are here to serve and support them in whatever way they need. We can be as involved as they want or let them take the lead and stand by as their cheerleader.”
What’s the greatest gift Ginny says she received from the Haven? HOPE. “When you’re down and out, you don’t think you can do anything. The staff at the Haven believed in me. That’s all I needed. They were confident I could reach my goals, so I began to believe it too.”
With her own apartment, full custody of her children, a good parenting relationship with their father, and a full-time job she has held since 2012, Ginny is optimistic about her future. And we continue to cheer her on from the sidelines.