Suzette and her partner lived in a two-bedroom apartment with their two daughters. But when the couple separated, Suzette was forced to downsize, hoping her salary as an accounting assistant would be adequate. “It was more affordable, but it was still hard to maintain the rent on my own,” she said. “I fell behind on the rent and ended up getting evicted.”
Suzette found a place in Lancaster, where rent is cheaper, but the commute to work was costing all the money she was saving. “I was doing that for a while, but it was costing $600 each week,” she said. “Also, my daughters were just 2 and 3, and the drive was tough on them.”
Suzette and her kids’ dad ended up working things out, and they soon found out they were expecting. They didn’t move back in together, but planned for it. He was on General Relief and was in a men’s home, where Suzette and their daughters couldn’t join him. “He told me about this place,” she said of the mission. “He said it could be good for us, and we could be saving, and help us get back on our feet. With savings and both of our incomes, we were planning to be together again and get back into a two-bedroom.”
Suzette and the girls moved in to the mission on Valentine’s Day. Six days later, her kids’ father died of a drug overdose. “He fell back into old habits and bad friends,” she said.
“The staff here really worked with us. We needed to make funeral arrangements and I really wanted my girls to be with family. They were very understanding.”
Suzette and her daughters—and another on the way—have settled in at the mission. “They even had a baby shower for me,” Suzette said, smiling. “It was a surprise. It was so nice. I feel very lucky to have found this place for me and my kids.”
Her 3-year-old and 4-year-old are both doing well. “After their dad passed away, I wanted to get a therapist involved,” Suzette said. “I wanted to make sure they were coping OK.
I don’t always have all the answers. I also did counseling. The shelter worked with me so I could have my sessions here on the weekends, so I didn’t have to miss work.
“The counselor talked to my girls about how they were doing here at the shelter. My oldest daughter said how much she liked it, how it was a really big house! It made me feel good that they felt comfortable. Having someplace stable for them is my focus.
I want to find an apartment and stay in it as long as I can for them while they are growing up.”
Suzette is still working at her accounting job, and working on budgeting. “It’s been so helpful being here,” she said. “I’m able to work more on my savings. And they supply us with everything—toothpaste, shampoo. I had fears about coming to a homeless shelter, but it’s not anything like I thought.
“It’s going really good. The staff here is all really great. Sometimes you have those (bad) days, but they always have words of encouragement for you. All of us need that from time to time.”