Angelica would have never guessed that one day she’d be helping others in the same way she was helped 10 years ago, but that’s exactly what happened.
Through Humanitri, a United Way agency, Angelica was given a helping hand, a fresh perspective and a second chance at a new life. Now, each day, Angelica instills hope in those who remind her of where she once was herself. This is her story.
Angelica hadn’t been married to her husband for a full year before she discovered he was seeing another woman. The newlyweds had a baby on the way, and their electricity was about to be shut off. She didn’t know what the future held, but she feared the worst.
After spending three grueling months on bed rest in the hospital before giving birth to her son, Angelica returned home to a dark, empty apartment. Bills were unpaid, her husband was gone and all her belongings had been sold. Angelica was left with nothing.
“There was nothing to come back to,” she said. “It didn’t seem to make sense. I didn’t think that was the path I was on. I questioned myself constantly, ‘How did I get here?’”
Homeless and in a final attempt to hold her family together, Angelica contacted her husband to see if he would go to a shelter with her and their son. As an abuser of drugs and alcohol, he didn’t think his addictions would be welcome. His response: “I’m not going.”
With literally nothing more than the clothes on their backs, Angelica and her newborn son sought help from a shelter where she heard about a transitional housing program offered by United Way supported Humanitri. It was the brightest glimmer of hope she had seen in months.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘If I could get into that program, I could do something,’” she said.
And she did.
Through Humanitri, people like Angelica who are in personal crisis are able to get back on their feet through financial security and permanent housing. With the assistance of multiple programs, families are provided assistance and the essential tools to obtain stable jobs, begin saving money, pay off debt and eventually afford a home.
During the two-year program, Humanitri walked with Angelica every step of the way. Determined, Angelica continually reminded herself that she would make it, and she did.
“It changed my life,” she said.
Angelica graduated from the Transitional Housing program and with beaming pride; she walked out the door of her old life and through the door of independence — the door to her very own home.
“I had a front door and a back door, and I thought to myself, ‘This is actually mine!’” an overjoyed Angelica recalls. “I was so happy.”
What once seemed like a hopeless situation has flourished into much more than just a home.
It began with a phone call from Humanitri expressing their interest in Angelica becoming their Transitional Housing Case Manager. As she had just successfully completed the program herself, they felt she would make a valuable asset in assisting others in their journey to a fresh start and home of their own.
Now eight years later, Angelica continues to help people every day through the same agency that helped her years ago. To say that she enjoys her job is an understatement.
“I love my job and this program,” she said with a smile. “When families come in, they’re scared about the whole situation, but when they leave, it’s like watching a butterfly come out of its cocoon. Somewhere along the way they realize, ‘I’ve done this. I’ve done this myself. I started there and now I’m here.’ There’s something magical about that, and since I came through the program myself, I know the experience and know what they’re feeling.”
Humanitri relies on United Way funding to do all that they do, such as clothe, comfort, house and coach people through personal crisis.
“Without United Way, we wouldn’t be able to keep our doors open,” Angelica said. “When you’re in the program, you don’t realize where the funding is coming from. Working for the program, I now understand that we need United Way.”
“I want people to know all that we do to make a difference in the lives of families,” Angelica said. “If we can just take one family off the street — just one — we’ve made a difference.”
Humanitri’s mission is to break the cycles of addiction, poverty, incarceration, homelessness and abuse. They help families rise above their circumstances and make lasting changes in their lives, their families and their communities. Humanitri has been a United Way supported agency since 1990.