Past Residents Give Thanks
A Lifelong Pursuit of Hope
A Lifelong Pursuit of Hope
My life has been a series of struggles starting with my parents. Married straight out of high school because of an unexpected pregnancy, they rarely got along. Soon my brother was born and the fighting was worse than ever. After deciding to divorce, I of course had to live with my mother. This was when the abuse began. She never wanted children, and let us know at every opportunity. After years of physical and mental abuse, I graduated to the next level of self destruction: My relationship with my children’s father. The sad part about it is, he treated me better than my mother ever did.
I had my first son at 19 and let my low self esteem lead the way. The physical and mental abuse continued until finally one day I realized that I needed to get out. I wouldn’t survive much longer and if I did what kind of life would it be for me and my children? I had one place I could go, one person I could turn to, my best friend in California. She offered a place to stay until I got on my feet and nothing sounded so good in all my life. So I packed up my children, sold everything we had except for the clothes and personal belongings we couldn’t do with out, and headed for sunny California. Within 5 weeks I had a job, a car and an apartment in Irvine. We were happy. We were finally living on our own with out all the torment and drama. Too bad I hadn’t planned for the unknown variables. I had no savings, and although I was making decent money, I had chosen a budget beyond my means. So we quickly found out what it was like to be evicted. We slept in the car for a few days then moved into a hotel when I received my pay check.
I never lost hope that I would find a way out, but it wasn’t easy. I had bad credit due to the string of bills still owed in Ohio, and my ex refused to pay child support. Still being homeless in California was better than anywhere I had been before. I had to get my finances under control first. So the kids moved in with my mother and step father until I could get the money together for an apartment. I worked hard, became very successful in my chosen field and finally felt as though I was making good decisions for myself emotionally and physically. My finances still needed attention, but I had a plan. This plan was quickly placed on hold when my father became ill. I decided to move back to Ohio to help with my father, and stay with my mother so I could save my money faster, or so I thought. My mother was in trouble financially and proceeded to let me know that I owed her. So much for saving! But I did however work really hard at my job and when things began to settle with my dad, I took a promotion with my company and found my way back to California! I was so happy to leave! I felt alive again. So I took the few thousand dollars I had squandered and headed west again. I had an apartment waiting for me, or so I thought and a job paying more money than I had ever made before. I thought everything would be great. My boyfriend however had financial problems of his own and plans changed very quickly.
I found and apartment in Irvine by myself and tried to figure out what I would do. But the money quickly ran out and I didn’t have any where to go once again. Hotels were expensive and every paycheck was accounted for. I had no money to save for an apartment; my transportation was quickly becoming a hazard and my job required travel. This is when I felt lower than ever. I continually tried to get a life together but fell short every time. I don’t drink, I don’t use drugs, I work hard, and I love my kids. Why was this so hard? I had no answers, but I knew I had to find somewhere for us. So I flipped through the phone book and called a few places. I had no luck. Either there were no openings or they didn’t have room for all of us. Finally someone gave me the phone number to OCIS. There was room for me there. I showed up scared, not knowing what to expect and eager to hope for the best. I thought, okay, we can rough it for a few weeks here, save money and get out!!! It was so much different than I had expected. I was greeted, and they looked at me with concern not judgement. They gave us a sense of security I wasn’t expecting. We moved into emergency and I quickly found out there were options for me here. I had people willing to help me and my kids get on our feet. And it wasn’t hard! The rules were simple and made sense and the staff was phenomenal. Soon my kids and I were able to move into transitional. This was the greatest feeling. I knew I was headed for better things now. I had great support from my case manager, and the group meetings were surprisingly fun and the therapy has opened up a new person. I have begun my life here. I had found the light at the end of the tunnel.
This is no shelter; this is a community of people who give without receiving. Who really care and are here to help. Even when I was financially, emotionally and mentally beaten down by my current situation, they were able to make me feel that I can and will succeed. I developed a trust for the first time in complete strangers. I had people who truly care about me my children and willing to do what they can to make sure we are prepared for our new future. I have a solid plan for my finances, I am emotionally making good decisions for us and I have acquired a sense of self here that I never would have found otherwise. I am going back to school and I am about to move into transitional 2. My kids are actually sad to be leaving the shelter. And why wouldn’t they? They have built relationships here. They have friends, and the activities we have here have spoiled us all. We now know what it takes to be happy, and we have found it here. It’s sad to know we are going to further away from our home. That is what OCIS has given us: A home. And it is not just about the structural surroundings. It’s the people who are here for you day in and day out. They listen to every story, they do what ever they can to let you know they are here for you, and they help you to attain what you need most. Confidence, trust in yourself and others, and most of all, they lead you to a life of your own. They have helped me to become the person I always knew existed within. I am stronger and more prepared for what lies ahead. A gift I can only hope to repay one day.
I love all of you!!! Thank you endlessly!!