The beginnings of homelessness are many and as varied as the people who live through the experience. Tabatha’s story begins with a broken home. The stresses and pressures of that experience led to experimentation followed by the regular use of drugs. She called it “recreational” and it was her way to cope with tough times.
Her experimentation turned into a daily ritual….a habit. Life spiraled out of control as she lost her job, her home and her daughter moved in with grandma. It was time to make some changes and she made the courageous decision to move away from the temptations, distractions and people who filled her life. It was not easy but it led to a move to Skagit County.
When she got here she detoxed for a week and then was referred to Friendship House after a stay in the hospital. That was the beginning of her journey back to self-reliance and sobriety. At Friendship House she found structure and support. Every week there was an action plan to complete, a house meeting to attend, house chores plus work to do in the kitchen.
After working a while in the Café Tabatha decided to apply to the Hunger to Hope (H2H) job training apprenticeship program. That meant on top of everything else she now added at least 20 hours a week in the kitchen on top of her other activities.
But she didn’t stop there. She joined a faith community and became an active member of a recovery support group. Each of these activities contributed to awakening the life skills that were repressed through her dependency. Time management, team work, sense of urgency, personal responsibility and dependability began to become part of her daily routine.
She made connections in the professional community as well participating in a local cooking competition at the local farmer’s market and exploring job possibilities through the Washington Hospitality Association. Each step forward contributed to growing her self-esteem and bolstering her determination to stay clean and sober.
At the end of 12 weeks of kitchen training, her H2H completion party was a joy to behold as her mother and daughter had the opportunity to attend and celebrate her accomplishments.
At this point our typical apprentice begins the job search process but Tabatha made what we feel was a courageous decision. With a goal in mind of regaining custody of her daughter, she opted for inpatient treatment for her dependency. She chose the path less traveled toward long-term stability and sobriety.
In the months since she completed her rehabilitation and treatment, Tabatha has continued to impress all of us. She has a permanent job at a local office supply store. She is living independently in transitional housing in the local area. She has traded up from her bicycle by getting both her driver’s license back and a car. She’s on her way to a sustainable, self-sufficient life. We are all proud to know her.
Friendship House is a place where lives can change and people’s spirit can be renewed. Tabatha’s journey is a story of renewal and it’s that renewal that gives us hope for all the others who struggle with homelessness.
Patty came to know friendship House at least five years ago. Our Men’s house manager said she had been around at least as long as she has worked here and that has been just over five years.
Patty and her boyfriend John are both staying in our Shelters and doing incredibly well at moving toward self sufficiency. They have both been clean for over 100 days now and are determined to get their lives back.
They will have housing soon and when they do have a home they will be able to work toward getting their children back. They both have children from previous relationships.
Patty’s life started out very rough. She had been kicked out of her mothers house when she was 12 years old and in order to survive she had to find somewhere to live. She is now 38 years old.
The place she found was with drug dealers and that was her first introduction to drugs. She started on meth amphetamine and later added heroin.
When she came to Friendship House for the services we provide like our meal service and donation room, she could not stay in our shelter, because she was not clean and sober.
One day she and John got very sick and needed to go to the hospital. They spent several days in the hospital and when they left they decided that something needed to change, that they were done with the life of drugs and homelessness.
They came to Friendship House this time for shelter. They found a place to heal and start to put the pieces back together.
It will be just a couple of short weeks until their time in the shelter is over. It has been almost 90 days and they have come so far. We couldn’t be prouder of the progress they have made and the determination they exhibit.
Patty Is determined to not let them be on the street again and will do everything in her power to make sure she and John are safe. They don’t want to go back to the life they had and Friendship House will be there for support even after they leave us.♥
There are experiences, challenges and situations that bond us together and other experiences that, at times, draw us farther apart. When put in crisis situations, these two counterparts tend to be magnified and often, more compelling. One of the most remarkable things we witness here at Friendship House is the overwhelming presence of unification and community in the face of great struggle.
We see people who are young, people who are old, people who are heart broken, people healing, people lost, and people found. However, one thing remains true about every person we encounter: their story is truly and unmistakably unique to them.
With this diversity, we encounter an expected amount of pushback. People disagree, people argue, people don’t always cooperate. After all, we are expecting 24 strangers to live cohesively together in each home. Not everyone is going to have the capacity for understanding and kindness at all times.
Despite the often turbulent road, our residents find a community of people with shared experiences who are all on a united journey to heal. While their story is exclusive to them, their histories often parallel and many even overlap. We regularly share our weekly highs and lows with one another at house meetings. Our lows are stories of abuse, addiction, conflict, and fear that are released from the individual. While our highs are stories of triumph, resilience, and perseverance, which are celebrated as a group. Friendship House is a place where judgment is shadowed by overwhelming understanding.
For the staff, hearing the highs and lows from each resident is a highlight every week. We hear their powerful stories and we are inspired. We hear their challenges and we relate. We are all in this journey together, a shared struggle that is the human condition. We remain unified to succeed.
“When I first came in, I think Brenda used the work self-sufficiency about 12 times!” Vivia says.
Vivia quickly showed a high level of responsibility and was asked to be a house assistant, who is responsible for helping House Manager Brenda with intakes, donations, and other duties.
“It was a huge learning experience for me,” Vivia says. “Because I was HA, I feel like I took so much more away from the program. I was able to help the house run smoothly and to connect with people on a personal level. Brenda was great at teaching me how to have boundaries, but also compassion. I learned that everyone has their own story and comes from their own walk of life.”
While serving as house assistant, Vivia was also persistent in looking at houses, and was finally successful at finding one. Several weeks ago, she, Robert and another couple moved into the new home.
“There are great resources here,” Vivia says. “Working through the Friendship House program got me exactly what I wanted. If you really make it your own, it will make a difference!”
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Reflecting the heart of God by feeding, sheltering, clothing and healing those in need.