Meet Barbara – does she fit the stereotypes surrounding homelessness?
Every young family starts out with plans to stay together. Unfortunately for Barbara, her irresponsible husband wasn’t helping that plan succeed. After struggling to keep the family together for some time, Barbara and her four children embarked on a search for a better life.
Planning the move from New York to Orlando with no income, transportation, or shelter, Barbara unwillingly acknowledged that her three older children would be better off in Puerto Rico with family for the time being. That left Barbara and her newborn baby, Ricky, alone on their way to a new city.
Arriving at the Coalition’s doorstep immediately after her flight to Orlando, Barbara knew all she needed was a chance to get on her feet again. Hard-working, intelligent, and determined, she was going to make her own way – with some help from the Coalition.
Carrying all of their belongings, Barbara and Ricky were admitted into the Coalition’s Center for Women and Families (CWF). Moving first into the women and infants’ dorm and later the women and children’s dorm, Barbara lost no time looking for employment.
“The same week I moved into the Coalition I got a job. Then, I got another. Soon I was working for two companies and cleaning houses on the weekends. I worked days, nights, and weekends,” Barbara stated resolutely. During his mother’s long, frequent hours at work, Ricky was placed in the care of the Coalition’s fully-licensed daycare center.
Working with her assigned case manager at the Coalition, Barbara was moving along quickly in her self-determined savings plan. Even so, she remembers the tough times on her journey to self-sufficiency.
“It was really hard; I barely got to see my baby,” Barbara admits. “But, it was what needed to be done, and I stuck with it.”
After seven months of residence at the Coalition, Barbara had saved enough to purchase a car. In about another month, she had saved enough to move out of the Center for Women and Families and into an apartment in downtown Orlando. Through the Coalition’s Scattered Site Housing Program, a portion of the rent was covered for a little over one year.
As soon as they were settled into their new home, Barbara’s first aspiration was, of course, to bring her three older children home from Puerto Rico. After eight months apart, her family was finally together and on their way to a fresh start.
“We had rental assistance from the Coalition for a little while, but now we are self-sufficient,” Barbara says proudly. “From getting a place to live, to a full-time job, to a car, to bringing my kids home – everything I said I was going to do, I did.”
Barbara is proud of her accomplishments, and has a right to be so. Starting a new life with nothing and becoming completely self-sufficient in about a year’s time, Barbara is a prime example of the clients the Coalition is proud to serve each day.