Isabel hasn’t had an easy life, but in spite of that, the articulate 23-year-old knew that it was up to her to make a better life for herself and her two toddlers. When she learned about Catholic Charities’ Young Adult Housing Services (YAHS), she recognized it was a way up and out of her difficult situation.
A single mother with no supportive family in the area, she had been dependent on the father of her children, but when he was sent to prison, she and her children became homeless. Most of the people she knew were also homeless. With nowhere to go, she and her children were couch-hopping, sleeping in her car, or staying at her dad’s house.
“Unfortunately, my dad and I don’t have a very good relationship,” she said. “So, staying at my dad’s house was difficult. But I did it for my two beautiful boys. I didn’t want them on the streets or sleeping on a different couch every night.”
It was also her impetus to apply for YAHS. The new program for homeless youth (ages 18-24) helps them find housing, employment, and provides assistance with budgeting, career planning, education, and setting personal goals. Isabel applied and was put on a waiting list. During her wait, Isabel picked up extra shifts at her job and saved her tips and checks so she was able to afford her own apartment.
“Callie [Webster] from Catholic Charities contacted me, and because of their help and direction, I was able to go back to school. I’m so happy that I have this program because I don’t think I’d be able to manage working, going to school, and taking care of the boys all at the same time without having the help that I have now.”
Now in her eighth month of the two-year program, Isabel will have her GED in three months, and will begin massage therapy school four months after that. Callie, a supervisor for YAHS, is impressed with Isabel.
“What strikes me about Isabel is her general willingness to put herself out there and take full ownership and responsibility for her life,” Callie said.
Before entering the program, Isabel was working noon to midnight just to make ends meet. Each day she left for work while her boys were in school, and came home when they were
sleeping. She hated it.
“It broke my heart. One day my son sat there and asked me ‘do you not love me and my brother anymore? You don’t see me, you’re not at home.’ That right there was my breaking point and I came to realize that yes, work is important but my kids are more important.”
The program opened up a lot of time for her by focusing on money management, help with rent and goal-setting. So, now she works six hours-a-day and is able to play with her children when she gets home.
“If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t feel like me and my kids would be where we’re at today,” Isabel said. “This isn’t a program that just pays your rent and you call it a day. This literally helped me set goals and helped me see the bigger picture and what I need to look at five years from now, two years from now. You need to set goals. I needed to better myself and there were times when I was in a dark place and I didn’t know what to do anymore. This program helped me not only with rent and bills, but also emotionally. This program is a blessing. “