“I’m not homeless.” That was my response to a friend who suggested to me Bridge of Hope, an organization that works with homeless single moms. I wasn’t sleeping in my car. I had a roof over my head and we were safe. I never thought of myself as homeless. But when she asked me if I had a place of my own, I had to admit that to myself — in fact, I was homeless and so was my son.
I had recently moved to State College with my 1-year-old son and was staying with friends. My plan was to look for work and get back on my feet. I knew that it would take a lot of hard work and determination, but I was up for the task. After a couple of months, I came face to face with the reality that hard work and determination weren’t enough. I felt hopeless.
I’ve explained it before like this: Picture yourself on a small raft in the middle of the ocean in a raging storm. That raft has a hole and is losing air at a rapid pace, and you know it’s just a matter of time before you go under. Imagine your child is right there with you, looking up at you, and you know there is nothing you can do within your power to rescue him or her. Now imagine hearing the sound of a chopper and, looking up, you see someone rappelling down. They grab hold of you and pull you and your child off the sinking raft and out of the storm. The crisis is over. You and (more importantly) your child have been rescued. That’s what it felt like when I was selected to participate in the Bridge of Hope program. We were out of our “crisis mode,” and my emotions, time and energy could now be spent on moving forward.
Over the next year, Bridge of Hope paid portions of my rent on a declining basis, allowing me the time to get financially grounded. I had an amazing case manager who met with me once a week to talk about and help me reach the goals I had set. I was also paired with a mentoring group that supported me the entire time.
My journey is not unique. There are many single moms who are still sitting in that raft, waiting for the chopper to come rescue them and their children from the crisis they are in. Bridge of Hope changes lives. It equips women to become independent and provides them the temporary help they need as they work through some very difficult circumstances. I am forever indebted to them.