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Five years ago my family was evicted from our apartment and we had nowhere to turn. As darkness was closing in around us, Home & Hope (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) appeared as a guiding light in the distance. My sisters and I feared what life would be like at a homeless shelter; but when we arrived for our intake appointment my fears were immediately silenced. The staff treated my family with respect and shared the history of compassion and safety that Home & Hope had.
Life wasn't always so precarious for me and my sisters. We grew up in a modest home in Indiana with three dogs and three cats. We went on family vacations, spent summer nights outdoors roasting marshmallows and never wanted for support, food, or shelter. But, that all changed when I was ten years old. My father was diagnosed with renal cancer and my mom was forced to work the night shift so that she could pay the bills and take care of her three daughters and her dying husband during the day.
After three years of struggle my father passed away on a cold January morning in 2000. Nine months later my mom, two sisters, and I packed our bags and set out for a fresh start in sunny California. Things went well the first couple of years, my mom had a great job, my sisters and I had made new friends and we were settling in nicely to our new life.
One summer day about two years after our move, my mom was fired from her job. I found out that she hadn't been adjusting to our life as well as my sisters and I had been. She had been silently struggling with depression since my dad's death and had finally buckled under the stress. For the next two years my mom was able to pay the bills with unemployment and disability checks, but eventually those ended and we had nowhere to turn.
My family stayed at Home & Hope during my senior year in high school. I am now in my fourth year of college and am just finishing my first semester of nursing school at San Francisco State University. Without the support of Home & Hope and their volunteers, I don't know where I would be now. I am so grateful for the love and support I received from them; they will always be a part of my life.
"When I volunteer at Home and Hope I am reminded that anyone can come upon tough times. The residents in the program are parents trying to do the best job they can in raising their children.
I admire them and am so glad there is a program that helps them achieve their goals." --A.Z.. __________________________________
“I really like the volunteers who were on duty last night because they think I am a good mom and that I have beautiful kids.” L. P.
“If it were not for this program I might be doing things to feed myself and my kids that I’d never wish on my worst enemy. I am so grateful to HOME & HOPE; the staff and volunteers for keeping me and my babies safe and fed and loved.” B. B.
“I couldn’t imagine what would have happened to me if I didn’t stay at IHN. I probably would have been in a terrible situation. I strongly believe that the program needs to continue. I used IHN as a stepping-stone to improve my life and the lives of my children.
I am so grateful to the staff and volunteers. Thank you!” -A.N.
“I know that my children enjoyed it there at IHN. They had fun playing with the other children and the volunteers. It was nice sitting down with the families and sharing our stories. It was like a home to them and they felt comfortable. People here at the IHN are so helpful, kind, patient, generous, and understanding.” -A.A.
“I am in awe of these families. I am thankful to be able to connect with them in small but meaningful ways --- over breakfast, as they make bag lunches, as they leave for the van that carries them to the Family Day Center. I am honored to be able to participate in such a simple and meaningful way. Thank you to the families whose patience, kindness and courage inspire me every time I join you.”
-Home and Hope Volunteer.