Five years ago my family was evicted from our apartment and we had nowhere to turn. As darkness was closing in around us, Home & Hope (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) appeared as a guiding light in the distance. My sisters and I feared what life would be like at a homeless shelter; but when we arrived for our intake appointment my fears were immediately silenced. The staff treated my family with respect and shared the history of compassion and safety that Home & Hope had.
Life wasn't always so precarious for me and my sisters. We grew up in a modest home in Indiana with three dogs and three cats. We went on family vacations, spent summer nights outdoors roasting marshmallows and never wanted for support, food, or shelter. But, that all changed when I was ten years old. My father was diagnosed with renal cancer and my mom was forced to work the night shift so that she could pay the bills and take care of her three daughters and her dying husband during the day.
After three years of struggle my father passed away on a cold January morning in 2000. Nine months later my mom, two sisters, and I packed our bags and set out for a fresh start in sunny California. Things went well the first couple of years, my mom had a great job, my sisters and I had made new friends and we were settling in nicely to our new life.
One summer day about two years after our move, my mom was fired from her job. I found out that she hadn't been adjusting to our life as well as my sisters and I had been. She had been silently struggling with depression since my dad's death and had finally buckled under the stress. For the next two years my mom was able to pay the bills with unemployment and disability checks, but eventually those ended and we had nowhere to turn.
My family stayed at Home & Hope during my senior year in high school. I am now in my fourth year of college and am just finishing my first semester of nursing school at San Francisco State University. Without the support of Home & Hope and their volunteers, I don't know where I would be now. I am so grateful for the love and support I received from them; they will always be a part of my life.