One Guest’s Story of Transformation: CATHY!
Just over a year ago, St. Francis Center’s resource specialist, Thalia Carreras, helped get Cathy off of the streets and into her own apartment.
Cathy had been homeless for three years, and started coming to SFC in 2017. Working with our case management program, we first connected Cathy with one of our mental health care services partners and then one of our housing partners. Last January, Cathy got matched with A Community of Friends, and was housed into one of their properties.
During the whole process, Thalia was meeting with her once a week, and attended all of Cathy’s meetings with her. “The whole process can be complicated and can take a while, so I’m glad Cathy had someone with her to provide help and support,” Thalia said. When Cathy officially got the keys to her place, Thalia accompanied Cathy as she moved in and SFC even purchased some housewarming gifts including pots and pans, basic kitchenware, bedding and some bathroom accessories.
We registered Cathy in our pantry services, where she started receiving weekly fresh, nutritious groceries.
But Cathy’s story does not end there. Formerly homeless individuals often struggle with the transition from living on the streets to now living in their own apartment. Thalia says one of the biggest challenges is that homeless individuals are housed in different neighborhoods that are not close to the friends, neighbors and resources with which they are familiar. Maintaining your own apartment also comes with a number of new, unfamiliar responsibilities including paying rent, paying utilities, buying groceries, cleaning, and having a landlord.
For months after Cathy moved in, she admitted that she would still sleep on the street from time to time.
“I felt like I would wake up and it would all be gone,” she said.
The key to helping guests like Cathy maintain stability is providing an ongoing community of support and case management. Thalia has been checking in regularly with Cathy’s on site case manager at her apartment complex, Cathy’s therapist and scheduling regular meetings with Cathy at St. Francis Center.
Cathy now says her apartment finally feels like home. She is enjoying cooking with the groceries she receives at St. Francis Center, reading James Patterson novels, and volunteering twice a week at SFC. She also wants to start taking classes at L.A. Trade Tech College and work toward getting her diploma.