Community - December 28, 2011

Holiday Fund: Shelter Network helps Stephanie regain her strength and permanent housing.

By Maria Duzon, communications manager, Shelter Network

In 2006, Stephanie's family was living comfortably. She had never dreamed of becoming homeless. But that year, everything changed when their 22-year-old son Nate, a student at UC Berkeley, tragically passed away.

"I must have hugged over 400 people at his funeral, including the mayor and the police chief," said Stephanie. "You don't see that kind of support for just anyone. Nate was special."

Nate's death was devastating to Stephanie and her family. On top of the emotional struggle, her husband's contracting jobs plummeted with the economy. Stephanie's income alone was not enough to sustain their lifestyle. They decided to take the kids and start a new life in Kentucky.

After three months in Kentucky, Stephanie was earning just $6.85/hour, and her husband found only sporadic construction jobs. When their house flooded, Stephanie moved with the children back to the Bay Area to live with her mother, while her husband stayed in Kentucky. Her mother's depression quickly made the living situation impossible. Stephanie ended up homeless, living in her car with five children.

Stephanie was referred to Shelter Network, and the family quickly moved into a transitional apartment at Shelter Network's Haven Family House in Menlo Park. She was so grateful to have their own safe, clean apartment where they could begin to rebuild their lives.

At Shelter Network, Stephanie's case manager helped her budget and search for housing. The children attended the on-site summer camp and received new backpacks for school. They were given free food, diapers, clothing and shoes — allowing her to save every dollar.

Stephanie's case manager helped her enroll in college classes for an AA in business administration. In October — less than four months after coming to Shelter Network — Stephanie and her children moved into their own apartment.

"My biggest motivator is my children, to show them that no matter what happens they can always pick themselves back up and succeed," said Stephanie. "Shelter Network has given me the opportunity to work hard and get our lives back. I am eternally grateful."

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