Growing up, Sandra was a self-proclaimed wild child who would argue, stay out late, and cause her mother to worry.
But as time went on, their relationship changed. She and her mother became very close, and with five kids of her own, Sandra has regret for the trouble she must have caused.
“Sometimes, I wish I could change the hands of time, but I know I can’t,” she said.
Due to complications from diabetes, her adored mother passed away at the age of 58. Sandra spiraled into a depression so deep that she had trouble getting out of bed most days, let alone to work on time. Unable to maintain a home for her family, she moved into her late mother’s house in hopes to heal.
The move, however, did not bring Sandra solace. And since the house was under the ownership of another family member, she was unable to stay. Sandra, with her two youngest kids in tow, bounced from one place to the next, until she realized that they were, in fact, homeless and needing to rebuild.
Sandra and her daughter, Mahasin, moved into St. Barnabas Mission while her sister agreed to watch after her son. Adapting was stressful—having a curfew, designated meal times, and sharing a living space—but Sandra chose to make the best of it.
Other mothers at St. Barnabas became her friends. Her case manager and residential assistants became her allies. And children at the shelter would run to her for a hug every time she’d walk through the door. “They’re strangers when you come here, but they become family,” Sandra added.
Sandra and Mahasin will soon transition out of the shelter and into a home of their own—where she looks forward to being able to see all of her kids more frequently. Though she is ready for her next chapter, the move is a bittersweet one.
The place where she had once dreaded to go had become a sanctuary. “I don’t even call it the shelter anymore. I call it my place of love,” she said. “That’s what me and Mahasin named it because we found so much love coming in here.”
Sandra often turns to the memory of her mother for direction in life. “She was a beautiful mom,” she said. “She’d want me to stay focused and do what I have to do … I’m ready to do everything. I have the strength to do it all—accomplish anything that I want to accomplish. It’s beautiful, ECS … a beautiful place.”