After years of trauma and unstable housing, Shanelle has found her way home.
Last year, she was accepted into ECS’ permanent supportive housing program, and today, she and her daughters live comfortably.
Shanelle looks back fondly on her childhood. Her mother was a single parent and provided a comfortable life for Shanelle and her four siblings. Not once did they go to bed hungry or have to worry about the gas or electricity being shut off. Sure, she may have been stricter than other moms in the neighborhood, but Shanelle, a mother now herself, understands why.
“Our father wasn’t really there, so she worked [extra hard] to take care of us. Whatever she did, she did it for her kids,” Shanelle said with admiration and a bit of remorse.
Shanelle was only 20 when her mother died. Unable to afford to stay in their childhood home, the close-knit siblings moved in with their grandmother for a couple of years until she, too, passed away. Shanelle was a single mother of two young girls. With nowhere to go, she stayed with friends before deciding to find a shelter for her family.
“I just didn’t want to sleep on anybody’s couch with two kids,” she said. “I was like ‘No, this is not the way.’ [Shelter] was hard. You don’t want to put your kids through that … I didn’t have to go through that.”
Since transitioning out of shelter and into our supportive housing program, Shanelle has been paired with a trusted case manager, is offered life-skills workshops, health assessments, and employment support. With her case manager’s assistance, Shanelle is seeking family therapy to ensure her daughters process the significant transitions they have experienced.
“Motherhood is tough. I learn every day. I don’t have the answers for everything,” she said “but [I ask] ‘what can we do to make things better?’”
Shanelle has been working toward earning her GED and has her sights set on college to become a social worker. In five years, she plans to be a full-time social worker and first-time homeowner, possibly down South—“somewhere to start over … [with] more job opportunities and a better living for my girls,” she said.
She stays humble and reminds herself that the assistance she receives from ECS is temporary—a stepping stone leading her to a life of self-sufficiency.
“I’m blessed. I really am,” Shanelle added. “People helped me get here … and after what I’ve gone through, I want to give back.”