Success Stories

Samantha

“Every roadblock you come across is just another test to see how much you really want to be living right,” she said. “I’m truly thankful for this opportunity to rebuild my life, and have the foundation to build it on. Before when I was building my foundation, I had no base ground. [Dignity Housing] really gave me that.”

For Samantha, going through shelters and group homes felt like “musical chairs.” Fleeing domestic abuse and struggling with substance abuse, and mental illness, Samantha entered the shelter system in need of support, especially as she strove to provide a more stable life for her son.

While living in a permanent placement in a shelter with 25 other women, Samantha heard about Dignity Housing from one of the other residents. She quickly applied, and got her name on the list, but that was just the first step in what would be a long process.

Continue reading more about Samantha and others:

She moved into an independent living facility for a year while waiting for a placement. While it was better than the shelter, it wasn’t a solution because it meant living mainly without her son.  “Imagine putting a kid through that,” Samantha said. “I’m not saying people haven’t done it, but obviously if I don’t have to do that why [would I]? Instead of bringing my son through the shelter system, my mom was kind enough to take him in and get him to school and back.”



“I just wanted to do the right thing,” she said. “To do what I had to do.”



She devoted herself to the application process, being proactive and following up to ensure that her application was coming along smoothly. She refused to give up even when the requirements seemed onerous. Any difficulties in the application would be worth it, she knew, once she got a home.



“Sometimes I feel like being overwhelmed is really a lot of the problem. If you’re overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do, who to turn to, and you don’t want to ask people for help if you feel like you’ve always been shot down,” she said. “If I wasn’t determined or ambitious, I would have never gotten here. So my resilience to keep going even if there was another issue or a small leap that I had to take—I did it.”



She was placed in a home through Dignity Housing in September 2018 and has been making it her own. “It’s been a process of moving. I’ve had things in many different places,” she said. Some possessions she kept with her in the shelter, while others were in her mom’s house or a storage locker. “The process of gathering everything and bringing it there; being able to clean it and have it stay clean; putting it in one spot where I don’t have to keep moving stuff around—it’s relaxing,” she said. “It’s a blessing. It is my own space [and] it feels good.”



Having her own space has been an adjustment. While she finds it is a positive experience on the whole, her past struggles have kept her from settling in completely. “When we first got here, I said to my son, ‘Don’t stomp on the floors, don’t bounce too hard,’” Samantha said. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyone else.”


But she is able to take ownership of her own space, and really feels like she is building her future. After moving in, she fixed a clogged drain in her bathroom. “When I did it myself, I wasn’t cleaning someone else’s drain. I was fixing my own drain; I was fixing a problem for myself,” she said. “I could call the handyman, but I didn’t want to bother them and they’ve already done so much for me. It felt good being able to solve that issue.”

She is taking the same approach when it comes to her career—she plans to build something for herself. Now that her living situation is more stable, she has a firmer foundation to start attending to other areas of her life and face the things that before had to be pushed away.  Access to the computer lab and other resources at Dignity Housing have made it easier to start on a new career path.



She is working in retail, so with her irregular hours, she still relies on some help from her mother to make sure her son gets to school on time, and that he is cared for when she is working on evenings or weekends. Her ultimate goal is to hold a stable career focused on helping others live through struggles similar to those she faced, including behavioral issues and depression.



To that end, Samantha has already completed a 70-hour course and become a certified peer specialist (CPS). As Samantha described it, “a CPS is someone that identifies with mental health or behavioral health and is willing to use their experience to work in the recovery process with their peers.”



“I know what it’s like to be depressed and not have that drive or ambition to do anything; I’ve been there,” she said. She believes that her experiences will be valuable. She understands where her peers are coming from and can share with them how she was able to orient herself in a direction that she wants to go, including by making use of programs like Dignity Housing.



She said, “My goal is to work with people like myself that have been through some life-changing situations and are in the process of recovery.”



The road hasn’t been easy. A recent challenge? Many of the positions she has applied for require a driver’s license. Once again, Samantha’s resilience and determination have proven to be key. Instead of becoming discouraged, she views getting her license as the next step, and has scheduled an upcoming driving test. With the license, she will be able to go after the jobs she wants.



“Every roadblock you come across is just another test to see how much you really want to be living right,” she said. “I’m truly thankful for this opportunity to rebuild my life, and have the foundation to build it on. Before when I was building my foundation, I had no base ground. [Dignity Housing] really gave me that.”



 Marion

“It doesn’t feel like a program, it feels like family.” – Marion, a tenant of Dignity Housing’s Enhanced Services Program.

Video produced by Temple students Marchelle Roberts and Tiffany Mercer-Robbins




Ms. M

“Having my own personal space – [my] own apartment, and the accessibility of case managers.”


Another, recent success story that we would like to share is Ms. M, a single mother who was in the Dignity Housing Alicia’s House program. Ms. M entered the Dignity program with a history of domestic violence and human trafficking that led to her homelessness. During her time at Dignity her case manager connected her with resources for credit repair to pursue homeownership and assisted her with permanent housing. Ms. M also worked with Dignity’s Education Coordinator to update her resume, review and complete graduate school applications. Because of the guidance and assistance from the Dignity staff, as well as Ms. M’s self-determination, she secured a full-time job with the State of Pennsylvania and enrolled in online Master’s program in International Policy law.



In May 2018, Ms. M and her children moved into permanent housing. She plans to continue working towards homeownership and obtaining her master’s degree. When asked what she liked best about her time at Dignity, Ms. M stated, “Having my own personal space – [my] own apartment, and the accessibility of case managers.”


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