Here at Home Sweet Home, everyone has a story. Read below to hear from these voices of hope.
Back in 2018 I was working full time at a restaurant. I had been managing there for about 6 years. At one point, I was making good money and able to afford my day to day expenses. However, when I got pregnant the summer of that year, things changed. In order to prepare for my maternity leave, the owner had to hire and train new employees to fill my spot. Once we did that he decided they also needed hours and shifts to keep them engaged until they could take over all of my hours.
This led to me moving to part time and slowly but surely getting behind on my rent. I was only 30 days past due and my landlord had already attempted to send a 5 day notice. I asked for an extension at least until the first of 2019 since I would be on maternity leave soon and she would not work with me. 30 days later in October, my landlord officially filed for an eviction. It was probably for the best since I wasn’t going to be working full time again until spring of the next year and would have to play serious catch up on the bills and rent.
So I packed up and prayed that there was space for me at Home Sweet Home. I had no savings to go and find a new place. I only have one relative in town and we are not on the best of terms. Living with friends wasn’t an option since I had no idea how long I would need a place to stay and there would be no room at any of their homes for myself and a new baby. Home Sweet Home was the best and safest option.
During this time I was getting bigger and my boss was getting nervous about me working in such a small space around hot grease. For my safety, my boss asked if I would take my maternity leave early. I really had no choice. It was getting hard to move around in the restaurant. So on top of not making as much money, I now was making no money.
I lived at Home Sweet Home for about 5 months give or take. It was difficult to foresee what my life would be like after the baby was born since I had no way to care for her financially at the time. One of the things I worked on with my case manager was other avenues of finding a place for us to live. Since I had an eviction on my record, it limits the options you have to rent from. Most places that take evictions or lower credit scores are subpar and unkempt, not an ideal space for a newborn.
While at Home Sweet Home I was able to take the time I needed to research and apply for different housing options and programs. I found that being there gave me quick access to information about different organizations that could assist me. Usually when you’re out on your own you have to wait for people to call you back, make appointments, or drive to every location to get the answers you need. Working with my case manager was kind of like a one stop shop to getting the job done. My goal was to save money for a down payment, file for TANF before my daughter is born, complete a housing application, and get items I needed for when my daughter arrived.
I completed all of those things during my stay, but not alone. Between staff and support from other residents, I was able to have a safe space for myself and my daughter and more help than I could ever ask for. The best memories at Home Sweet Home were the relationships I gained while living there. Some of whom are now lifelong friends! I will never forget the days I would wake up and head down to the main desk to see Mrs. Debbie greeting me with a warm and friendly smile. She always asked how I was feeling and how my goals were coming along. Even though I was at what I consider a low point in my life staff really made staying at Home Sweet Home a more comforting experience. They actually cared for each individual genuinely and went above and beyond to ensure we all were comfortable and in good spirits. So many of the kitchen staff went out of their way to do the same and I actually miss them from time to time.
This was a starting point to a long road of repair and recovery. However, with drive, support and perseverance I was able to achieve success. If you are given access to resources use them! Don’t know where to look or what’s available? Ask many questions to many people and places to find out. There is no shame in needing to ask for help. Sometimes taking that first step can lead you down a path to your new future. My advice for a client staying at Home Sweet Home is to use the time you are there wisely; if you are not working take time to set your short term and mid-term goals with your case worker and start working on them! Take a class that helps you start your career, take time to research steps you can take to achieve your goal and then act on them, make connections and meet new people, or do some volunteer work while you wait on different applications to be approved.
I signed up with different programs that were meant to assist me in my situation; MCCA, Labyrinth House, Neville House; and then I decided to volunteer at YWCA. This action step opened a door for me straight to my dream job, a career in social work! I was able to make new connections that eventually lead to a job offer and now I am a Social Enterprise Specialist at YWCA. If you told me this would happen a year ago, I would have said you had the wrong Candice. The moral of my story is never give up on yourself. If doors start closing on you now, you keep pushing forward and finding new doors to open. If another door is locked, keep working at it because you can make a new key!
“My name is Mindi. I am a 39 year old single mom to a 5 year old little girl. The circumstances that led me to Home Sweet Home was not unordinary, however, it was not typical either. I moved to Illinois from Idaho pursuing a relationship. It was not an easy move by any means, to leave my family and friends behind. It was a huge leap of faith. The relationship I moved here for, obviously, did not work and because I did not know anyone I had no choice to make some phone calls and figure out how to go about checking my daughter and I into Home Sweet Home.
I had never stayed in a shelter before. Ironically, I had worked at one for 6 years and was a case manager for 2 years. To describe the range of emotions checking in and getting “settled” is rough. Humility, anger, and lost are just the beginning of those feelings. At one time, talking with my mom, I told her my emotions felt like one who is grieving and mourning death. The denial, the anger, the hurt. It was all overwhelming for quite some time.
I had a job the whole time I stayed here. Unfortunately, it was not always the same job because I had to find something suitable and that fit around my daughter’s schedule. Either way, I continued to have a job. I finally got to a point where I had to humble myself and talk with my case manager about the Rapid Rehousing Program. Because of my background in working at a shelter, I knew resources were out there, I just had to ask. Asking for help is not my forte but I knew my daughter and I needed that little extra to get us back to where we wanted and needed to be.
Turns out I was a perfect fit for the program. It did not take long for the ball to get rolling and to get everything finalized. I was able to sign my lease and my daughter and I were able to move into our home.
I have nothing but gratitude for everyone that helped me along the way through my struggles. I went down a road I never thought I would see. With my perseverance and the help of HSHM, my daughter and I are back to where we needed to be. Home!”
Imagine having to bounce around from place to place and not having a stable location to call home. That was the case for Phillip before he was introduced to Home Sweet Home’s Rapid Rehousing program.
“Well, I was living with a friend and she was in a situation where she had to move. I knew I had a few people to go to but I didn’t want to burden anybody or try to live in my truck so I decided to come here,” shares Phillip.
After staying in the shelter for over a month, Phillip’s case manager introduced him to Aaron, Home Sweet Home’s Rapid Rehousing Navigator.
“We sat down and talked and we started moving from there,” says Phillip.
Aaron worked with Phillip to create a budget plan. “We figured out how much my bills would be every month and what everything would cost. He really help me put things into perspective,” shares Phillip. “I had some outstanding utility bills and I started aggressively paying that off and the program was able to help me with that.”
After putting his finances in order, the next step was to find an apartment. Phillip was excited to begin the search. “Aaron went with me and we talked to the landlords. We shared information about the new program.”
Once Phillip found a place, Aaron helped him fill out the necessary paper work and put down a deposit. When asked about getting handed the keys, “Oh, it’s awesome. Nothing like it,” smiles Phillip.
Aaron has kept in touch with Phillip, providing continued support and guidance. Phillip says he’s blessed to have others that he can count on.
“It’s very good to know that I have someone I can talk to in case I need some help. He comes by and checks on me. We have home visits to see if everything is going well.”
Fast forward a few months later and Phillip continues to work and save money. “It’s been a big help to just have a place to call home and come home to.”
Phillip says he is extremely grateful for Aaron and everyone involved. “The Rapid Rehousing program is a Godsend. It’s one thing to provide shelter for someone, but to be able to help someone get out there on their own, put their first foot forward, that’s a blessing.”
As Rosamond walks the halls of Home Sweet Home Ministries, she can’t help getting greeted with open arms and big smiles.
“Whenever I come here, I feel happiness. I feel family around me.”
It’s been nearly two years since Rosamond stayed at the shelter.
“When I first came here, I was so depressed. I was coming from an abusive relationship,” shares Rosamond. “I depended on my spouse for everything. I didn’t do anything on my own.”
Through counseling services at Home Sweet Home, Rosamond learned to embrace her independence.
“Home Sweet Home supported me physically, mentally, and morally. From here is where my experience really started,” exclaims Rosamond.
With the support of HSHM, Rosamond secured housing and employment. Despite a few struggles, her strength and happiness endures. “I have my home. I can go to the bank. I can do things for myself now,” smiles Rosamond.
Rosamond continues to live in her own apartment and enjoys babysitting. She remains devoted to her bible studies and helping others wherever she can. She is even an active member of the Bread for Life Food Co-op.
“I help with stocking. I sort bread and canned foods. I also work with the people who are shopping,” conveys Rosamond.
She loves shopping in the co-op at least a few times per month. She says she savors picking out fresh vegetables and meat.
“Here you get really good food and friendships,” adds Rosamond. “We have a good time together. It’s a good experience for me.”
As Rosamond strives to move forward, she demonstrates that there is hope beyond the shelter walls.
“With God, we have hope all the time. That’s what keeps me going,” praises Rosamond. Her spirits remain high as she discovers more about herself and the new paths that lie ahead.
“It’s been a very good journey for me,” asserts Rosamond. “I am living my own life. I am so happy.”
It is our vision at Home Sweet Home to be a ministry of refuge and renewal powered by Jesus Christ.
Each day we restore hope to our residents, encouraging them towards successful paths in life. Learning to walk a new path takes time and devotion. Take it from one of our former residents, Brian, a veteran who stayed at Home Sweet Home for seven months.
“When I got here it was December and we had some below zero temperatures. I could have been out there freezing to death,” says Brian.
When he came here, Brian was at rock bottom, hopeless. Brian was dealing with a divorce, leading him into depression which ultimately cost him his job and his apartment. Brian felt alone, with no one to talk to.
“You think you’re a number when you come in but as time went on you figured out that you’re not just a number you’re actually somebody that people care about.”
Having a special room for veterans was his first step towards a new, brighter path.
“So it was wonderful to have a place to go and some sort of privacy to start off with,” adds Brian.
Brian’s faith was restored through devotions, counseling, job life training, and Faith and Finances classes. “You get out of it what you put into it. And that’s what we did, we just kept plugging along all that time and finally things happened.”
He utilized our services here to turn his life around. “Everyone is fragile, they just don’t realize it how fragile they can be. They start to help you put the pieces back together.”
Brian now has an apartment, a job, and confidence in himself that didn’t exist seven months ago.
“It’s given me hope again,” says Brian.
He hopes to serve as an inspiration to others that no matter your situation, if you choose to change, it can happen here at Home Sweet Home.
Brian loves his new job and the path he is on now. He knows obstacles still lie ahead, but now has a more optimistic approach.
“Just basically live day by day and keep myself together. Making it. This place has been a Godsend,” praises Brian.
Maureen, a former resident of Home Sweet Home and an active volunteer, shares her story of hope.
My husband passed away unexpectedly, and the next seven years were very difficult. I was not staying in my support groups and my relationship with God began to suffer. I was angry with God and did not feel like He was there for me. As a result, I started making bad decisions, but I didn’t really realize they were bad decisions at the time.
My son was at school here in Bloomington, and he connected me with Home Sweet Home Ministries. When I came here, I had only the clothes on my back. Home Sweet Home got me clothes and gave me a hot meal. They helped me find the resources that I needed. My case manager would follow up with me on everything, and genuinely cared about me. You can tell that for everyone who works here, this isn’t just their “job”, they truly care about everyone who walks through the doors. The devotions every morning really helped me and challenged me in my relationship with God. There are so many classes to help you build yourself up.
I didn’t think that I had any artistic talent, but I went to an art class and painted a sunset. It was beautiful! I didn’t realize I had that in me. It helped me build my confidence back up. I was able to give my painting to my children, which just meant the world to me. God was helping me and opening doors for me.
What happened to me, can happen to anyone. When I first came here, I was scared. But as I got to know the other residents, I realized so many of them were educated, came from a good home, but circumstances in life led them to being here. I made so many lifelong friends while I was here, and while we all have different stories, we identified with one another. Everything in my life has turned around and I do feel like I have a bright future now and big appreciation for life and for family, for true friends and for everyone who helped me along the way. God was with me when I found this place. And when I moved out, I felt like I could be a whole person again. I could see God’s hand in my life. I know I could not have gotten myself together without the support of Home Sweet Home Ministries.
"I was proud to serve my country, but my experience as a solider has left me wounded physically, mentally and spiritually. I needed to find a place to heal from my health issues and to get back on my feet. Home Sweet Home is an amazing place where God is easily accessible and a springboard back to "real" life. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! God Blesses Home Sweet Home!"
As part of our work service program, James was assigned to be an assistant in our facilities department and he remembered that he had something of value to contribute-himself. He also learned that he had the ability to change his life. With help from his case manager, he then found outside employment and housing. James' life is now filled with new possibilities.
Be joyful in HOPE, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayerRomans 12:12