Marissa never dreamed she could end up homeless. A hard worker, at 22 she was the assistant manager at a retail store, but she had no maternity leave benefits and lost her source of income after her daughter Gina was born. She and the baby’s father were unable to afford rent and spiraled into homelessness. The stress and other factors drove them apart.
Desperate, with a seven-month-old baby, Marissa arrived at the door of House of Hope.
“It was awful. I blamed myself as a parent. I wished that I had been more stable before I had Gina.” Marissa found that House of Hope’s daily structure, routines, and parenting program helped her to rebuild their life. “When I first arrived, a staff member told me, ‘this is not a shelter – this is a home.’ I didn’t believe her at first but later I knew it was the truth. I am so glad I was able to stay at House of Hope – I was safe and stable and loved, and I learned a lot.”
Learning to Manage Money
The most important education Marissa received was the Budget Buddies program for financial training and support. “A lot of women don’t know the value of money,” she said. “In order to have a stable family and stay out of homelessness, you need to be able to manage your money.” And Marissa does exactly that. Now in her own apartment, she is building a new life that includes a network of support: friends and neighbors who help each other with daycare so that they successfully juggle their working schedules.
It has been a long haul, but Marissa is proud of what she has achieved. “It took a long time to be where I am at. I am not ashamed of my stay in shelter. Now I know that nothing is going to stop me. With the right help, I feel like I can overcome any challenge.”