Tammy spent most of her life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the desire for warmer weather and to be closer to her oldest daughter, inspired her to make a big move. But once in California, Tammy’s plans hit a snag.
Tammy has three children: two daughters, 23 and 14, and a 3-year-old son. When Tammy and her two younger children made it out west, they started looking for a place. “Me and my oldest daughter were going to put our funds together, but my credit score wasn’t what it needed to be, and I wasn’t prepared for that,” Tammy said. “They don’t use credit scores when you rent a place in Wisconsin. So that didn’t work out the way it was supposed to.”
Tammy was at a work resource center when she was referred to the mission. “We were staying in an Airbnb (short-term rental) when I got the call that we’d been accepted and that we could move in,” she said. “I just thought, ‘Oh, thank God.’ Three days later and we would’ve been sleeping in the car, or who knows where.
“The experience has been a really, really good one. It’s so comforting. We were shuffling from motel to motel. Our situation was really inconsistent. So when we got here, it was like, ‘OK now I can breathe. Now I can relax.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do. That was stressful.”
Both of Tammy’s kids came with her to the mission, but now her 14-year-old is back in Wisconsin to finish her eighth-grade year. “She wasn’t used to being around all these people, so it was a little stressful for her at first,” Tammy said. “Eventually she got to know the other kids, the parents, the staff. She got so close to them, when it was time for her to leave and go back to Wisconsin to finish school, they were all crying.”
Tammy said she’s thought about what she would’ve done if the mission hadn’t reached out. “Moving in here really slowed my thought process down, which is really, really helpful when you’re trying to move,” she said. “You want to think about your options, think about where you’re going to work, where the schools and daycare are going to be. My time here is allowing me to do a lot of research. I am able to really think about where I want to move and I’m thankful for that.
“I say that the mission really caught me before I fell,” Tammy added. “I’m doing pretty good as far as saving money, working, trying to get permanent placement with my job. I’m with a staffing agency, so a permanent job is my next step. I have started apartment searching and have appointments lined up, so I’m excited about that.”
The Christian focus has been comforting for Tammy, too. “This is a faith-based place, and I’m really into church as far as studying the bible, going to church every Sunday, participating in worship and praise—that’s a really important part of my life. To still have faith and patience through all of this—not having a vehicle or a home—that’s where you get your best reward.”
Tammy has made friends and has appreciated the tight schedule at the mission. “I like the structure here: the chores, the dinner time at 6, the curfew. It’s so good for the kids,” she said. “They need that. Sometimes kids don’t even get that in their own houses. It helps them to become independent. They have resources for them too, like tutoring and homework help. This shelter is a really good safe haven. I don’t know too much about other shelters, but I really feel like this one is a home away from home.
“All the families here, we have all become so close. And the staff, I love them. They are so comforting. They are truly for us, for the residents. Our feelings, our wellbeing, it really matters to the staff and that feels good.”
Tammy said she’s so grateful for the mission. “My spirits are staying lifted,” she said. “Instead of walking around moping, they have things planned, classes, to keep you going and keep your head up, so you won’t be down. Because of course everyone wants their own home, but it’s a process.
This is a place where you can get complete transformation before that happens. It’s a good feeling to be a part of it. It gives you that boost to hit the ground running.”