“You want to know you have a place where your kids can come.”
This story is from the Invisible Project, a collaboration between the Welcome Project and Porter County Coalition for Affordable Housing, Housing Opportunities, Gabriel’s Horn, Dayspring Women’s Center, and Porter County Museum.
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Transcript for Roof Over Your Head
I got to experience homelessness, I got to experience living on others’—I got to experience all that, so it gave me more respect for people who are out there homeless, that they’re not in this alone. But I used to be that kind of person—I would judge people because I thought, you know, I wasn’t letting things stop me, and I was doing it. What’s wrong with them? And then I became that person, and it wasn’t until then I understood not to do that—not to judge, not to assume they don’t want anything out of life.
My parents are, you know, late eighties/early nineties, and they still live in Gary, in the house that I grew up in, and if you asked me years, and years, and years ago, I’d go, ‘Well, it’s the greatest place, you know, the west side of Gary and—very residential. It’s big yards, and kids can play.’
My husband was nineteen, and I was sixteen, and so we went to his sister’s, and that’s where we lived until I had our child, and then, once I had the baby, we had our own apartment. I decided to move from Indiana, and to try to better myself so I could be better for my kids.
I went to school at Ivy Tech, and that’s in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I went for a medical assistant, and I did graduate, and began work, and that was the beginning of, you know, me paying my own way. It felt so good, you know? It was so nice to see your name on a paycheck, you know? And know that you created this, and that you can choose how to spend it, you know? In the process of that, I did remarry, you know, to a great guy. He had some of the same goals that I did, and family, being family-oriented. And he helped raise my kids, you know? Gosh, he was just so great, you know, but he passed away. Two years after his death, which was in 2007, I became disabled. My diagnosis was post-traumatic stress disorder—yeah—and depression. And those were very dark times for me. I didn’t feel I deserved to be happy because he wasn’t there with me to share the happiness that we shared together. And so, everything we worked for, I gave all away. I find myself in a circle—it’s like a fish bowl. I want to venture out, because that’s the drive I have inside, but that person, I’m like, ‘Where are you? Push through!’ A lot of people don’t come back, and I was one of them, that I just didn’t have my drive anymore.
Within the last couple of months, my family called and talked about Mom and Dad, how they’re declining. That’s what brought me back here to Indiana. I may not be able to have gainful employment, but all my skills that I have learned in the medical field, and just everything that I’ve picked up, I feel so good that I can say I’m using them to help my parents, you know?
Being a couch surfer may not be bad for a lot of people, but I’ve always had the drive to not depend on others, so for me to couch surf back and forth—it was still, like, a disappointment to myself, you know? Because every parent always wants to keep a roof over their head where their child can come, you know? You may not be able to put the spread out like you used to, but you just want to know you always got a place where your kids can come and have coffee with you, and talk about what’s going on in their life.
But I was fortunate to find a program—Neighboring Place. It’s a great program for women. They provide quite a bit besides shelter, you know, and I’m just real fortunate to be there. You know, being the bag lady, I finally got a place to put my bags down, and then lay down in my own bed.