Recovering From Tragedy 2017-05-19T08:35:44+00:00
RECOVERING FROM TRAGEDY

ANDRELLE’S STORY

At 24 years old, I had a lot to look forward to. Although I was pregnant with twins and chose not to continue the relationship with their father, things were going to be OK. My mother assured me that together we would raise the boys.

On the day that my son, Nehemiah, was born, his twin was stillborn. While I was in the delivery room, my mother had a stroke. She passed away five days later. Having lost my grandparents earlier in the year and now my mother and son, it was more than I could handle. This is what started the downward spiral on my path toward homelessness. I had a job with the US Postal Service, but often called in sick or left early because I could not stop crying. My life stopped. My coping skills were pushed to the limit and I was unable to share what was happening with my employer. As a result I lost my job.

Knowing I needed to care for my son, I found a job as a substitute teacher assistant working with special education children. Working part time, I found it difficult to pay rent and soon I was homeless, taking Nehemiah with me.

After experiencing life on skid row, I found Good Shepherd Center. In July 2013, four years after losing my mother and son, I moved into an apartment at GSC’s newest shelter, Farley House. The receptionist greeted me with a smile and had a pleasant and welcoming disposition.

During the time that I was homeless my car was impounded because I was driving without a license. It was later sold and many of my belongings were never recovered. One of my goals is to renew my license when the DMV releases its hold in April. I am receiving counseling to deal with the trauma I endured five years ago. This month, I will begin to continue my education by taking classes at LACC with a long term goal of working in social services.

I am working with the Employment Services Coordinator and Case Manager here at Good Shepherd Center to restructure my resumé so I can pursue a full time permanent position. It is hard to find direction when you don’t know where you will be sleeping tonight or even next week. Now there is no pressure. At Good Shepherd Center you are given direction and plenty of resources to accomplish your goals. Chores and curfew are welcome. I feel a sense of self-reliance once again and look forward to achieving self-sufficiency.

I am grateful that my son now has a safe environment to live in and is enrolled in pre-K . He loves it here and loves the people.

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ERICKA’S STORY

After years of uncertainty I experienced a glimmer of hope when, in the fall of 2008, my three children and I came to live at Good Shepherd Center’s Angel Guardian Home. I grew up in this area, came from a good home and many times passed Good Shepherd Center on my way to school. Admiring its beauty, I never suspected that it was a homeless shelter and never once expected that one day I would come to live here. I also never thought I would be a victim of domestic violence.

Violence was not something I was willing to tolerate, so in 1999, with three children to consider, I left my abuser.  Although it wasn’t easy I managed to support us while earning a degree in healthcare management. But nine years later, after going on medical leave for depression and eventually losing my job due to widespread layoffs, I decided to reconcile with my children’s father once again. This time the abuse became more intense and fearful for my life and the safety of my children, we left once again.   Without a job and means to support my family, I felt hopeless and depressed. I was reluctant to let friends know that we were homeless and so many nights we slept in our car. Parked in front of a “beautiful mansion” that I later learned was GSC’s Historic House, we felt safe.

Despite these challenging circumstances, my children continued to attend Our Lady of Loretto School and hid the fact that they were homeless. While visiting friends in the neighborhood, my oldest daughter Hazel, met Carolina, who was then a resident at Angel Guardian Home. It was through Carolina that I discovered the resources that were available for the homeless.  I filled out an application and was accepted as a resident in the fall of 2008.

Our first Christmas at Good Shepherd Center was incredible! At an event called A Better Christmas, I stood wide-eyed with amazement. Sister Julia Mary asked me if I was OK and I fought back the tears as I answered “yes.” I was so incredibly thankful for the love and generosity that was being bestowed upon my children and me. It has continued throughout our stay here at GSC. The parenting classes, the events and workshops, the counseling and life coaching sessions are all part of the package called “Good Shepherd Center, serving with dignity and love.”

The support I received at Good Shepherd Center prepared me to seek employment once again and in 2009 I secured a job at an Imaging Center in Glendale.  I was delighted to find work again in the medical field! However, one year later, while at work, I had a seizure and was again placed on medical leave. In 2011 I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor and due to complications during surgery I was in a coma for a month. I am forever grateful to my sister and all of Good Shepherd Center for sheltering my children, both physically and emotionally, during this time.

It has been a difficult road but I have never given up. I know that I need to be strong for myself as well as for my children. During my time at Good Shepherd Center I have taken advantage of the many programs offered and have become stronger and more independent as a result.

In April 2012 I was able to return to work at the Imaging Center. My employer has been very supportive of me taking classes that enhance my career goals in nursing. My dream is to become a registered nurse (RN) but for now I am focusing on becoming a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). With the support of my Good Shepherd family, I know that I will be able to attain this goal and continue to improve my life and the lives of my three beautiful children.

I am grateful that my son now has a safe environment to live in and is enrolled in pre-K . He loves it here and loves the people.

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HAZEL’S STORY

Ihave been a ballerina, a dance teacher, a caterer, a personal trainer, a certified massage therapist and a sous chef on a cruise ship. I feel like I lived five lifetimes before I became homeless.

In 2009 I was living in New York and working as a caterer. I was a newlywed and just two weeks after my wedding day, my husband was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Two weeks after that, I lost my apartment. I discovered that the landlord had rented out the units illegally, and the Fire Marshall closed down the building. The tenants, including myself, were not allowed to re-enter the building, not even to gather our personal belongings. In one big swoop I lost everything—my home, my love, and all my possessions. I needed to make a new start and I wanted to live some place warm, so I headed to Arizona.

I lived in Arizona for a brief period of time, and while there, buried my last living relative. From there I moved to Santa Monica and lived in a hostel. Two weeks after I moved in, all my belongings were stolen: my bank card, the little money I had, and all my identification. I spent a few nights sleeping on the street when a homeless man said to me, “You need to be educated. You don’t belong here. I choose to live this life, but I don’t think you want to live like this.” I told him, “You’re right. I don’t want to live like this.” This man took me to DPSS, and helped me to apply for General Relief (welfare). He then took me to Saint Joseph Center and they referred me to a shelter in Culver City. While I was living in Culver City, I heard people talking about Good Shepherd Center. My case manager, Tina, persistently called Languille Emergency Shelter, and when a space opened, I moved in.

I heard about the culinary arts training program at The Village Kitchen and inquired about it. Ray, the Employment Services Coordinator, helped me get into the program. When I was depressed, Ray helped me by just listening to me. He still calls sometimes, and I think that says a lot. When I worked as a caterer, I was self-taught. If I wanted to make something, I just looked it up and made it. I always liked cooking, but The Village Kitchen was the first formal training I had. I am so grateful for the education and the experience I received, and for the support I received from Ray and the rest of the staff. The nuns were awesome! I had never been around nuns before but I quickly realized they’re human; they just dressed differently. I appreciated all the little things I received while living at Good Shepherd Center. Whenever I felt down, someone would come along and ask; ‘Are you ok?’ or they’d say ‘It’s so good to see you.’ There was always someone around to bring you back up.

Today I live in my own apartment with a friend and I work at a café in Hollywood, filling in wherever needed: line cook, chef on food presentation at the front end of the kitchen, and as cook and server for banquets and private parties. Although I love my job, I’m looking for a job that’s more about cooking and combining herbs for wellness. I am studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Emperor’s College in Santa Monica. I have my eye on a little tea house and herbal remedy establishment. The staff is friendly and the environment is harmonious. It just may be the perfect place for me! What I really learned from my experience of being homeless is that you don’t have to do something huge. Do something small. Don’t be afraid to be kind. It just might change someone’s life!

SAMANTHA’S STORY

Iwas a successful accountant and fortunate enough to have my own business. I had a business partner that anyone would be proud to call their best friend. But “words are cheap” as they say and this partner stole all the company’s money and moved out of the country. I was devastated and humiliated. How could someone so successful have been so stupid? After all, I was the one keeping the books. I swallowed my pride and accepted the fact that I was homeless and had nowhere to go.

I called 211, a social service access number, and they gave me the number to Good Shepherd Center. As I sat before the case manager at Languille Emergency Shelter, three words came to me: “please help me.” I promised her that if she would let me stay at Good Shepherd that I would get a job in the first week I was there. All I needed was a good night’s sleep and a place to shower.

I was shocked when I came to breakfast! It had been quite a while since I had a home cooked meal. The pampering I received while staying at the emergency shelter was unbelievable. They gave me clean clothes to go on interviews and bus tokens to get there. But most importantly I received the emotional support I needed to greet the interviewer with an optimistic attitude. As I promised, within a week I found a job—as an accountant.

Knowing my time at the shelter would be brief, I saved as much money as I could. When my time was nearly up, I requested a placement at Farley House, a transitional residence which is part of Good Shepherd Center. Instead of a room, I now have an apartment and am one step closer to independent living. I continue to work as an accountant and am able to save money every out of every paycheck toward permanent housing. I thank Good Shepherd and I thank my God for helping me in my darkest hours. Thank you for your continued support and love. I will never forget your kindness.

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LUCY’S STORY

Icame to the United States over 20 years ago to make a better life for myself. I became a legal resident and was fortunate enough to land several well paying jobs, the most recent one with the Los Angeles Police Department. I was not alone when the layoffs came but it was no consolation when I was not able to pay my rent and was forced to leave my apartment. I did not know where to go for help so I went to live on the streets. I was there for over a year. While living on the streets I was robbed of all my personal belongings, including my identification, my social security card and my legal residence card.

I met Sr. Rosaline when she brought food, clothes and toiletries to those of us living in the park. She referred me to the Good Shepherd Center – Languille Emergency Shelter. It wasn’t easy starting over but I kept busy taking care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs. During my stay at Languille I was able to replace my identification, my social security card and my legal resident card.

When I met Sr. Rosaline I was hopeless and weary but now I am a very happy person. The staff at Good Shepherd Center assisted me in applying for my social security retirement benefits. I am renting a room from a friend who owns a house in the Valley. I am very grateful to the Good Shepherd staff, especially Sr. Rosaline, for giving me a chance to get back on my feet and to once again regain dignity and self respect.

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ALLISON’S STORY

Icame to Los Angeles with my three children to flee a violent situation. A friend let us stay with her for a while but her landlord found out we were there and so we had to move out. We stayed in a hotel for a few nights but we were quickly running out of money. I was torn between being able to feed my children or paying for another night at the hotel.

I called 211 and they gave me the number for Good Shepherd Center. My children were so happy when Sister gave them some cookies to eat while I was in the interview. They had not eaten that day.

Having been in an abusive relationship for so long, I doubted my abilities as a mother. During the next few weeks, my parenting skills improved as a result of the weekly support groups provided by Dr. Sam. The case manager helped me to enroll my children in the area school. Although I had not worked in many years she helped me develop a resume based on life skills and my natural abilities. Soon I was able to get a job and begin the process of rebuilding our lives.

I wanted to give something back as soon as I received my first paycheck. I was told that the best way to give was to be an example to other women. The guidance I received from the staff at Good Shepherd Center enabled me to start a new life for us here in Los Angeles. Thank you for saving me and my children from the streets and giving us the love and support we so desperately needed.

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