City House – Glimpses of Light

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“Selina”

Selina moved to Plano in 2012 and was a student at Plano West High School, where she met a young man who became her boyfriend. They dated for a few months and Selena ended up getting pregnant. She was a senior in high school, had just turned 18 and wanted to have the baby.

Selina’s mother did not take the news of the pregnancy well, deeming her daughter a legal adult and kicked her out of the house as a result.

“My boyfriend took me in, living with his mother and brother in an apartment before moving to Mesquite as a group when his mother got a house,” Selina said.

Unfortunately that situation was not very smooth, didn’t last long and Selina and her boyfriend found themselves without a roof over their heads.

“We did the best we could, living out of his car for a couple of months. It certainly wasn’t fun. I was pregnant and still trying to get through my senior year in high school. There was a lot going on. We were living in the car for about a week or two when a friend told us about City House and that it was a possible option for some help.”

So Selina and her boyfriend came over to City House’s Youth Resource Center and were able to talk with a case manager. Selina was able to move into the TLP girls house in Plano, while her boyfriend moved into the boys house.

“I was really nervous and didn’t know what to expect when I first got in the house,” she said. “There was still a lot going on, but now we had a roof over our head and it was a good situation. He had a car and we took that to high school each day and I also had a job at Garden Ridge. I was pregnant and got tired very easily. I ended up doing home schooling as a result.”

Baby Nadia was born a few months later. After leaving City House, Selina ended up splitting up from the baby’s dad and they went separate ways. Selina is doing fine now and has plans to attend Richland College next semester.

“I’ve since met a fantastic guy named Chase and we’ve been together for about eight months,” Selina said. “I have my daughter and we live together in an apartment. I’m also attending nursing school. My goal is to become a doctor and possibly a pediatric surgeon. Helping babies, I would be very excited about that.”

Selina says she is very thankful and appreciative of what City House did for her, with one of her cherished memories being a baby shower that the staff and fellow residents threw for her.

“My experience with City House made me more mature in my ways of thinking and made me realize not to take things for granted. I should strive hard to do whatever I want to do in life. Being able to have a home and people around me that supported me – that was the best thing. They helped me get to where I needed to get to.”

 “Elisa”

Elise describes herself as “your average kid growing up.” Her parents were divorced; Mom was an art teacher and Dad had a normal 9-to-5 job, and she lived in a typical neighborhood. Elise had a dog, friends, Girl Scouts, was involved in youth group. But things started to change for her in middle school and definitely high school.

“I was a chess piece in parents’ relationship, a lot of it over child support,” Elise said. “Mom became less supportive and less responsible. I went to live with Dad but felt like a guest in my own home. He was controlling and verbally abusive; I finally was scared to live there. So I left at 20, filled with depression and anxiety. Nowhere to turn, I lived in my car for a few months, couch-surfed some, but I couldn’t go back to Mom or Dad’s.”

Resilient as they come, Elise leaned on her network of friends, both old and new. She always looked for ways to help them too, even when she needed some herself.

“I actually found City House while researching to help a friend who needed a place to stay,” she said. “I never thought I would be a candidate for it since I had parents’ homes I should have been able to go to. But I couldn’t go back there. So I called City House and they accepted me into the program.”

The program that Elise was part of is City House’s Transitional Living Program (TLP), designed for young adults ages 17-21, who are homeless or in a negative situation at home. Elise was a resident back in 2013.

“City House gave me a ‘home’ for the first time in my life,” Elise said. “They surrounded me with people who supported me and helped me learn to achieve what I wanted to achieve. They’ve helped with resources – financial aid, helped me get into school, taught me some great money management principles. City House has given me a foundation to build on. While I was there, I could concentrate on working and going to school and not where I was going to sleep that night. I saw so much purpose and opportunities that I never would have seen before.”

Now 22, Elise often drops in to visit and see how things are going. Her connection with the organization hasn’t stopped since she left the TLP program and continues to work toward her career goals.

I did a lot during my time with City House. I was able to get my Esthetician’s license and take classes at Collin County Community College. My goal is to eventually earn a degree in theater and pursue a career in the performing arts, and I continue to work towards that.

“I’m so thankful for the people I’ve met through City House, and I enjoy touching base with my friends on the staff. My life has been impacted and changed for the better. I learned how to stand on my own two feet. I always look back at that time of my life and know it is where things turned the corner for me.”

 

City House | Plano, Texas: Emergency Youth Shelter for Youth and Transitional Living Program

City House is dedicated to providing homeless children and teens in North Texas with emergency shelter and transitional residential services.

Sharing Life – Glimpses of Light

Sharing Life – Client Testimonials

“Mr. D”

We welcomed Mr. D to Sharing Life late on a Friday afternoon this summer. He is an imposing man, at least 6’7”, quite jovial and was accompanied by six children. The children were starving. They rushed the candy jar on my desk like they hadn’t eaten in days. The truth was, they hadn’t eaten much in the past few days. Mr. D, a truck driver, used all of his money to travel to California to pick up his children after CPS removed the children from the care of their mother. Prior to his surprise trip to California, Mr. D was living in a small apartment with his girlfriend. When he arrived home from his trip with the six children, the apartment manager was quick to let him know they couldn’t stay there any longer. Fire safety laws and apartment policies wouldn’t allow so many people to dwell in one apartment. Homeless, hungry and broke, Mr. D came to Sharing Life looking for help. Sharing Life staff worked with Mr. D and his children over the summer providing food, clothing, school supplies and emergency motel rent until the family could find housing assistance to meet their long term needs. Once they finally found their permanent home, Sharing Life filled their house with furniture and sorely needed household items, including a pantry filled with groceries. This story warms our hearts when we think about how far this family has come since July. Because of the funding we receive from the Dallas Morning News Charities, we are able to make a difference in the lives of people in crisis. People like Mr. D and his six children.

“Sarah”

Sarah was a high school student in Mesquite ISD. Sarah was also experiencing homelessness. When we met Sarah she was two months from graduation. A stellar student and athlete, Sarah did not know where to turn when her mother left her to fend for herself after her mom moved in with her boyfriend. Sarah had no job, no money and no place to stay. Sharing Life came to the rescue after a McKinney Vento social worker with Mesquite ISD alerted us to Sarah’s plight. Sharing Life provided food, financial assistance for shelter and other services to create a safety net for Sarah to get to graduation. In early June, Sarah graduated with honors and left soon after to join the US Army. Because of the funding we receive from the Dallas Morning News Charities, we were able to help Sarah overcome a real crisis that could have led to lifetime of poverty. Instead, we have new recruit serving our country after receiving her high school diploma with honors

Family Gateway – Glimpses of Light

Stories of Hope

Shanjula

When Shanjula and her three children became homeless, she blamed herself and felt guilty for not being able to provide a safe place for her children. All she desired was to provide her family with something consistent and stable. Then, Shanjula found Family Gateway. She and her family arrived to the Center with nothing. Upon arrival, they moved into their own a room – a safe place to regain self-sufficiency. They were provided with basic necessities like food and toiletries – survival tools that most people take for granted. Shanjula received case management services to establish goals and to create a plan to achieve them, and her children had a stable, nurturing environment to learn and grow. She was overwhelmed by the love, compassion, and unity she felt at Family Gateway.

Today, Shanjula’s three children are either graduated or in college. Shanjula is working on her Masters degree and plans to start her own non-profit organization like Family Gateway to help change lives.

Alex*

In August of 2013, hard times hit Alex, his wife, and their three children. After losing his job, they moved from place to place trying to get their feet on solid ground. Alex and his family ended up at Family Gateway in the summer of 2015 and immediately felt a sense of security. His children had a stable place to grow and thrived in Family Gateway’s education and summer programming. Doors opened for Alex and his wife through case management services, enabling them to find jobs and to pay their outstanding bills.

Alex and his family now have their own place, and he and his wife have stable jobs. Alex is in the early stages of opening his own nonprofit to provide transportation for homeless elderly and veterans. He and his wife are grateful to Family Gateway for empowering them to regain self-sufficiency.

*This name has been changed to respect the privacy of the family.

Natalie*

At 18, Natalie had two young children and was struggling to make ends meet. She ran out of options and had no way to feed her family. That’s when Natalie heard about Family Gateway. As soon as she called, Natalie knew that Family Gateway was the agency to save her family. She could tell

that the wellbeing of her and her children was just as important to the staff at Family Gateway as it was to her; they felt comforted, loved, and respected at their new home. Natalie began taking adult classes while her children participated in the education and early childcare programs. Thanks to the case management services and budgeting classes, Natalie regained self-sufficiency and stability for her kids.

Today, Natalie works at Family Gateway, helping other families who come from similar situations. Every day, she seeks to encourage, inspire, motivate, listen, and provide hope to other children and families affected by homelessness.

*This name has been changed to respect the privacy of the family.

Miranda*

Miranda and her two children came to the Center after being evicted from their apartment. This was the first time Miranda and her family had experienced homelessness. Determined to transition into self-sufficiency, she quickly started job searching and got a job as a CNA at a rehab center. However, due to her recent eviction, a lot of apartments denied Miranda’s application.

Miranda developed a savings plan to pay back her previous landlord which helped her move into her own two bedroom apartment. Although Miranda worked long shifts, she prioritized her family and made sure that her children were enrolled in school and daycare. Her hard work was noticed by not only staff at Family Gateway but also her employer; Miranda was recently promoted as lead CNA.

*This name has been changed to respect the privacy of the family.

Theresa*

Theresa* remembers moving into the Annette G. Strauss Family Gateway Center as a young girl. Her mother was 21 and expecting her 3rd child. Her mother didn’t have any skills, and sadly her father was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Theresa and her mother and siblings were left out on the streets of Dallas…

…until Family Gateway took them in with open arms full of love and support. Theresa and her family moved into one of Family Gateway’s apartments. She was overjoyed to have her OWN room and a REAL bed. Wanting what was best for her and her children, Theresa’s mother cooked every night, helped them with their homework, and then read them a bedtime story. She attended life skills and parenting classes while her kids participated in afterschool and extracurricular activities.

Theresa has fond memories of the fun activities and events she participated in at Family Gateway. Theresa is now a college graduate with her own house, and she works for the Dallas Cowboys. To this day, Theresa proudly credits her success to Family Gateway for providing the support and stability her mother needed to regain self-sufficiency for their family.

*This name has been changed to respect the privacy of the family.

 

Brother Bill’s Helping Hand – Glimpses of Light

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Three Client Stories from Suzanne P. Griffin, Executive Director of Brother Bill’s

A Grandfather’s Love

This past year neighbors have benefitted from Brother Bill’s Helping Hand programs in a multitude of ways. For the last fifteen years, a sweet couple has been raising three grandchildren. The grandmother’s health was such that she spent most of the time in bed, but the grandfather rarely misses a Grocery Store day and makes sure those grandchildren participate in every program we offer. He brings them to Soccer Camp, Basketball Camp, Back to School Carnival, and the annual Children’s Christmas Celebration. Last August the two boys went to summer camp with over 60 other BBHH campers and they regularly come to Super Saturday. Six months ago the grandmother passed away, and not long after that they learned the grandchildren’s father had died. Over the years Brother Bill’s Helping Hand has always been there for this family. We’ve delivered food when necessary, helped organize important legal documents, and been an encourager to the grandfather. We are grateful to have them as part of the Brother Bill’s Helping Hand family and to be there whenever they need us.

Finding a New Path 

Twice a year for the past twelve years Brother Bill’s Helping Hand offers PathWays, a 6-week / 120-hour job training program for women. The group is purposefully kept small so the ladies can get to know themselves, each other, and the leadership team. Volunteers provide training in everything from interview skills and resume writing to women’s health concerns and time management. Each week they visit businesses to hear about what that company looks for in an employee and how to apply for a job at that particular business. The ladies learn about managing their money through a program called Faith & Finances, and each one has a personal financial coach who walks them through areas such as budgeting and determining the difference between wants and needs. They also learn the importance of relying upon God for direction in all things. Last Spring PathWays graduated seven ladies. Today five graduates are now working full-time and one is working part-time. Their lives are changed because of PathWays. The lives of family members are changed because a mother, daughter or wife is now able to help support her family, and she understands the importance of education, commitment and faith.

The Gift of Life

Brother Bill’s Helping Hand Community Clinic provides quality health care to uninsured adults living in West Dallas. Through relationships with practically every major health care system in the Metroplex, the Clinic is able to provide a variety of services. One of those services is free mammograms. Every other month Methodist Health System’s mobile mammogram unit comes to BBHH and provides mammograms for up to 25 women. After getting her first mammogram a year ago at BBHH one particular woman was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer. Immediately, the hospital started her on chemo and then radiation. For the past year Brother Bill’s Helping Hand has prayed for her and been an encouragement to her through letters, phone calls, and personal visits. In her own words, she says – “Last year they told me that I was sick with cancer. Thanks to the cards that Brother Bill’s sent me, and all the help I received, I have felt encouraged and strong. To me, the people at Brother Bill’s are like angels. I am sure that if I would not have come to this place, it is possible that I would not have known about my sickness. But Brother Bill’s saved me; they saved my life for now.”

To learn more about Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, visit their website at: http://www.bbhh.org/
To give via Dallas Morning News Charities, head to our donation page: https://www.cftexas.org/DMN-charities

Promise House – Glimpses of Light

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Toby*

Toby’s mother was homeless before he was born. He spent his childhood moving with her from one shelter to the next. Although Toby lacked stability growing up, he always had a plan for his life: finish high school, get his culinary degree and open his own restaurant.

But to meet his goals, Toby needed help. At age 17, he found the emergency shelter program at Promise House.

“Promise House gave me a place to stay. My case workers made sure I had what I needed so I could focus on my plans and goals for the future,” Toby said. “They really just made sure that I was all right.”

During his time in the emergency shelter program, Toby received shelter, food, clothing, counseling and life skills training. He graduated in June, and plans to double major in culinary arts and business at a local community college!

Alexandra and Kenneth*

Alexandra knew the challenges of teen pregnancy all too well; her mother and grandmother both had children when they were teens.

When Alexandra got pregnant at age 19, her mom – who struggled with drug abuse – kicked her out of the house.

Alexandra started looking for help for teen moms and found the Wesley Inn Program at Promise House. Once she enrolled in the program, she said her life started showing signs of improvement. She gave birth to Kenneth and began taking courses at Kaplan College. The Wesley Inn Program provided her with support she said she would never have experienced, including classes on how to care for a newborn and bond with her son.

“I came to Wesley Inn and the staff and volunteers really helped me buckle down and finish school while I raised my son,” she said.

This summer, Alexandra passed her dental assistant certification exam. Today she is working in her field and raising her son in her own apartment.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy of our clients.