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Melissa is a 49 year old woman who has lived on the streets, doubled up with friends, has had numerous stays in jail and in detox, and has stayed with us in various programs we’ve offered here at the shelter. Over time we have noticed that each time Melissa stayed with us….her stay lasted longer every time. Melissa struggles with alcohol addiction and her stretches of sobriety were historically rare and very short. After receiving and participating in Case Management services (though she was not living with us) Melissa made the decision to stay at the New Community Shelter to receive 24/7 support as she struggled to maintain her sobriety. That day was…August 20th of last year. Since that time she has her good days and she will tell you she has her very challenging days. She now has medication that she takes as directed. She has reconnected with members of her family. Two weeks ago Melissa moved into an apartment on our 2nd floor Transitional Living Floor. She spends much of her time cooking and enjoying it. Her second floor neighbors also appreciate the fact the Melissa usually shares her amazing meals with them.

This is the longest period of time Melissa has been sober. She looks great – she is working on getting healthy – and has discovered ways to cope on her challenging days. EVERY TIME I see her – I have to smile – we are all so VERY proud of her hard work. Her first and most important goal she has set for herself is to remain sober. And she is doing that and now is putting some focus on her health as well. She would tell you she has learned much about herself the past few months.


A Bible and a Pair of Socks…

During the Christmas season we are fortunate to have many groups and individuals who bring in winter coasts, boots, mittens, hats, scarfs, etc. Janet, our Community Meal/Volunteer Coordinator usually has her team watching for those who join us for dinner every evening and also lunch on weekends. They specifically watch for people who may not have warm clothing. She was fortunate enough to witness the sincere appreciation of many of those individuals who received needed items.

Prior to Christmas, Janet received a large donation of Bibles and a large donation of socks – both to be given out to those in need at dinner one evening. Janet made sure everyone who wanted them received each item – except for one young boy. The boy’s mother (who struggles with some cognitive challenges) asked that Janet not give her son the items because she was now happy that she had something to give him for Christmas – the only things he would receive for Christmas – and she wanted it to be a surprise. The young boy is known to be VERY protective of his mother and we suspect he probably provides more care for her than she can for him.

It didn’t take Janet long to picture this young boy opening a bible and a pair of socks for Christmas. While one of our staff distracted the young boy, Janet asked the mom to pull her car up to the back door. Janet grabbed a few items that were donated for kids in our Meal Program (a board game, drawing pencils, drawing paper, and few other little things) and put them in the mother’s trunk. The mom was smiling ear to ear for the rest of the meal… she was REALLY excited for Christmas to come for her son. A bible, a pair of socks, and few small fun items – I wish I could have seen them both when he opened his presents this Christmas!!!!

He’s Motivating Others…

Jim is a 44 year old gentleman who has a very similar story – but Jim also struggles with some learning disabilities and is not able to read real well. Jim also was someone we saw on a regular basis – but each stay ended in him relapsing. He also began seeking out Case Management services though he did not live here. Then one day….December 16th of 2009 Jim walked in and moved into the shelter. He stayed on our 3rd Floor Emergency Program with one goal to begin with – to stay sober and remain sober. In May of last year he moved on to our 2nd Floor and in to one of our Transitional Living Apartments. Today, he has been sober for 1 year and 1 month. The longest period of time……that he can remember being sober. We are told often by others that Jim is out there talking to acquaintances he’s met on the street and in shelters and encouraging them to try the shelter and he shares his experience and his SUCCESS.

Jim has also reconnected with his family….especially his dad. They work on projects together in his dad’s garage.

What we’ve learned is that until one becomes sober…there is little else a person can effectively move forward on (i.e. employment, health issues, etc.) because the addiction works against consistent progress. It is amazing to see the goals individuals come up with for themselves once they’ve taken on and continue to address their biggest goal…..sobriety. It’s amazing to witness!!!


A Pair of Pink Boots…

After Christmas……especially during the coldest months…..our community does not forget those in need. Someone had donated a number of children’s boots, jackets, and snow pants. Janet spent one evening meal speaking with our Community Meal Participants quietly….inquiring if they and their children had appropriate winter wear. Janet talked with a mom there with here young daughter who was about 9 or 10 years old. Though mom was wearing only a sweatshirt over a hooded sweatshirt….mom said she had everything she needed. She did mention that the zipper in her daughter’s coat no longer worked and she had grown out of the boots she had last year. I happened to be in the vicinity when Janet pulled them aside in private and asked the young girl what size shoe she wore? Janet then pulled out a pair of boots………the girl was THRILLED because they were her size and they were PINK!! Janet also found a pair of snow pants and a coat…..well….you know that look….you’ve seen when you’ve given a child a gift that they NEVER EVER thought they’d get…..and they just did??? A look of “are they going to cry or jump up and down celebrating?”……I saw that look…..that was the look that I saw on mom’s face. The young girl just kept repeating….Mom look!!! They’re NEW and they FIT!!! I went home that night thinking…………many of us have no idea how lucky we are…to have even just the basics…..and more important….we have the means to provide them for our children.