Here at Associated Ministries we do more than just help clients that come to us looking for housing and other assistance. Each staff member and intern who deals with case management and intake, also offer hope as well as encouragement to those who so desperately need it. This sometimes comes from a place of experience as multiple staff and interns have experienced homelessness themselves in the past.
One such person, who we will call “Alicia Jones”, has agreed to be interviewed and share her story in the hopes that it will help to educate on what we do here at AM on a daily basis.
Chelsea Gitzen: How did you become homeless?
Alicia Jones: “I became homeless because I walked out on domestic violence. The violence began four days into living together, but I stuck it out for 6 months until the end of my lease. It was bad and I decided being homeless was better.”
CG: What were the first days of being homeless like?
AJ: “I will never forget that experience, especially the first few days. I was moving my car every hour or two and wasn’t sleeping at all. I was and still am always looking over my shoulder looking for his car.”
CG: Where did you find help?
AJ: “There’s too many people needing temporary housing therefore it doesn’t exist anymore. There are so many more people that need housing than what is available and the prices keep going up every week. The staff at Nativity House were the most helpful where they have 3 meals, an art room, games, a place to hang out and air conditioning, the WorkSource staff helped me get a job and new skills, as well as the Metropolitan Development Council building where I could get a hot shower, do laundry and receive medical care – it was the greatest thing.”
CG: Why are you sharing your story?
AJ: “While the resources I were able to access were incredibly helpful, there are gaps in services and lack of availability. There are simply not enough to go around based on the need of our community and I am hoping to help spread the word of the needs of people who were in my situation. Another issue that people experiencing homelessness can have to deal with is injury. During the time I was homeless I was injured and discovered the world is made for people who do not have difficulty walking. It was very eye-opening and shows me we’re still a long way to making places really accessible for people with disabilities.”
CG: Can you share more of what life was like before you became homeless?
AJ: ““I would describe my life before as really solid and safe. I lived in subsidized housing for almost a decade and before that I had owned a house. I was working in customer service and finance and my job skills were up-to-date and I had a great deal of work experience.
CG: What is life like now?
AJ: “I am thankful to have a temporary job and gaining updated and new job skills and experience through my internship with Associated Ministries. The program I am in has allowed me to take some computer, finance and other classes through Goodwill. I am enjoying the work I do, helping identify affordable housing for clients who are looking for a second chance just like I was. I also reach out to landlords who are willing to work with people who have barriers that are keeping them from finding a place to live. I am also learning about more resources we have to offer through the different programs of Associated Ministries and in our community. And I am now living in a place of my own!”
CG: You have persevered through it all, do you have additional thoughts you would like to share?
AJ: “I will never forget the lessons I learned during my time experiencing homelessness. My words of advice to anyone experiencing domestic violence and/or homelessness themselves is being positive will lead you to better things. If you keep being sad your world will get smaller. So keep yourself up because great things are going to happen, you just have a little while to get there.”