Heather was pregnant, alone and scared. She was staying in a run-down motel room, lit only with two small lamps. She still remembers the water stains that yellowed the wallpaper and the constant drip that came from the bathroom faucet. She was living in that dirty motel room night to night, terrified about what tomorrow would bring.
Growing up, Heather never worried about becoming homeless. She was raised by a loving, financially secure family in a small Midwestern city. She never wanted for anything.
“I never thought I would be homeless, not in a million years.”
But now, everything had changed. She was alone, frightened and living a nightmare with nowhere to turn.
Looking back, Heather recalls the chain of events that led her to that awful motel room. After graduating from high school, Heather earned a degree in Early Childhood Education. But finding a permanent teaching job was more difficult than she had hoped. She began substitute teaching, but the work was irregular and the pay inconsistent. Instead, Heather began a career as a full-time, live-in nanny. Her parents never approved. They told her she was being irresponsible. She needed insurance and a retirement plan. But with free room & board and weekends off, Heather was as happy as any 23-year-old could be.
But when Heather unexpectedly became pregnant, she lost her job. Since she never had to pay for rent or food, Heather never learned how to set a budget. With no insurance, no savings, and no home of her own, she didn’t know what to do or where to turn. Now, here she was, in that awful motel room, panicked about having enough food to feed herself and her unborn child.
“I continued to stay at the motel and all along I was worrying about what I was going to do when I ran out of money. Luckily, someone referred me to the Lake County Haven.”
It was when Heather picked up the phone and spoke to a compassionate and friendly case manager that things began to turn around. A room was available at the shelter and Heather was welcomed into the safety of the Haven.
Once she settled into her new home at the Haven, Heather realized she was set up to succeed. She had everything she needed to begin working towards a life of stable independence.
Working with her case manager, Heather outlined her goals and created a plan that would move her to independence. Soon, she found employment at a local day care facility. She learned how to manage a budget and save money.
After four months in our Shelter Program, Heather was ready for more independence. She had accomplished many things in the shelter, but with a baby on the way, she still needed the guidance and support of the Haven. She was the perfect candidate for our Transitional Housing Program.
This was a crucial stepping-stone for Heather. With the autonomy of her own apartment, Heather had the space she needed for her growing family. With affordable rent payments, she was able to pay off previous debt and continue to grow her savings. And when she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, she had all the help that a new mother needed.
Heather is THRIVING! She and her son live in their own apartment in the community. Heather has learned all the skills she needs to ensure they are NEVER homeless again. Best of all, she will teach those skills to her son as she helps him grow up.