When I first my Vickie I was struck by how bright she seemed. Her dazzling eyes and warm smile lit up the room. Like many in our program, Vickie is a single parent to a teenaged daughter. Their hardship reflects so many others’ journey through homelessness.
I sat down with a tearful Vickie and asked what brough her to this point and what some of the challenges had been before she came. “I lost my apartment due to inflation and the cost of living was just higher than what I was making. I got evicted out of my apartment and two weeks later Family Promise called me and offered me a room for my daughter and I to stay.”
Teary-eyed, Vickie talks about how hard that was: “It was very difficult and very hard. I felt like a failure because I let my daughter down by becoming homeless. I had to sleep in my car. I had to sleep in my sister’s house on the sofa. And the nights that I slept in my car were very cold so when I got that phone call, I was very grateful.” Vickie faced some unique challenges. After a pause to gather herself, she continues, “The money that I did have left after paying all my bills I would get my daughter -she was my main priority, making sure her needs were met- I would go without eating but as long as she was able to eat that’s all I cared about. We had to eat like frozen fruit, ramen noodles but I sometimes would get her take out because there’s a lot of stuff she cannot eat with her allergies.”
When Vickie entered the program, she could finally breathe a sigh of relief, but not before the initial jitters. “When I first got here and I first met Camille (our caseworker,) she was the first person I met at family promise. She made me feel safe and she listened to me. I was scared. At one point I did tell her I was about to run out because I didn’t know what to expect. But once I met everybody here, they made me feel like family.” Vickie smiles big underneath wet cheaks, but when she speaks again her voice breaks. “The only thing I can say about Family Promise is ‘God, I thank you for sending these angels into my life and helping me to believe that I can achieve my goals in my homeless situation.’”
I ask Vickie how it feels to be graduating from the program. “I’m happy and I’m overjoyed because God has blessed me with another opportunity to put a roof over my daughter and my head. And even though I’m sad to be leaving because I'm gonna miss a lot of the people here, I know I’m still gonna be considered family to them and they're still gonna be considered family to me for everything that they did for me and I’m gonna be eternally grateful for everything that they did. I don’t wanna leave, but I have to because I made a vow and a promise to my daughter, ‘Momma’s gonna achieve this for you Syesha.’... I didn’t think I was gonna make it out. But I did thanks to Family Promise.”