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Sharon's Story of Determination Adds A Smile To Picture Of Homelessness

When most people think of the homeless, they're thinking of "them."  The homeless are different.  Homeless people are a hand outstretched on the sidewalk, a story in the news or a city council issue.  And most people would be surprised at how many of "them" are out there.

Families, couples, children - people with jobs and without.  Folks in recovery from all kinds of problems, mental and physical.  People who have been abused.  Anyone can become homeless; many are just a paycheck away.

For Sharon, her decision to leave an abusive relationship is what brought her to the brink of homelessness.  Fortunately, she was able to temporarily move in with her sister while desperately seeking shelter for herself and her son, Jared, age 1.  Sharon's mother suggested she contact Family Tree House of Hope.

House of Hope is a 24-hour residential shelter in Englewood that provides homeless families (female heads of household and their children) with safe shelter and a broad range of services enabling families to stabilize their housing situations while learning skills that will assist them in becoming self-sufficient.

Sharon arrived at House of Hope with very few personal possessions, but with loads of determination.  In fact, it is her determination that Family Tree staff speak of when talking about Sharon.  As they point out, Sharon's story is not so much about what was occurring in her life before coming to Family Tree but more about what happened after she arrived.

As Family Tree House of Hope Program Director Keith Singer recalls, Sharon would get up each morning at 5:30 a.m. and be out the door by 7:00 a.m. to begin her day.  With both a job and school to attend, Sharon worked late into the evening often extending her day to perform massages as a student working toward her massage license.  Then, she would return to Family Tree House of Hope to complete her chores, care for her son only to begin the process all over again the next day.  And according to staff, she did all of this with a wonderful smile.

With an 11th grade education, this bright 20-year old has aspirations of completing her license to become a masseuse, working to complete her GED and eventually attend college to work toward a business degree.

For Sharon, her hard work is beginning to pay off.  Already she has been able to obtain transitional housing.  Transitional housing is temporary housing, usually up to two-years, with case management and supportive services.

Sharon also reminds others of the basic dignities that each person deserves, "Whatever you do, don't give up.  You and your kids deserve better, you deserve a place to stay, food on your table, a good school for your kids to go to.  You deserve to laugh and feel at peace."

Sharon's story should remind each of us to look beyond the veil of "them" and to consider not only the basic human value of homeless persons we encounter in our daily lives, but also consider that many like Sharon are individuals who work long hours, have dreams of bettering themselves all the while keeping a smile and hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.

Pseudonyms have been used and photos substituted to protect the identity of the client.


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