(“Susie” is a fictitious name, used to protect confidentiality)
Susie had hit rock bottom – this was her second stay at Freedom House; six of her eight kids were living elsewhere, her mom was dying of cancer, her 11-year-old son was having severe behavioral problems; she’d lost her home when the duplex she was renting was foreclosed and she had no job. She wanted nothing to do with the shelter’s “mandatory” budgeting and parenting classes – she just wanted to end it all. The night of February 25th, 2010, she spent crying and plotting how she would kill herself. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, the next morning she spoke with a Freedom House Case Manager who introduced Susie to God. Susie gave her life to Christ that morning and has never looked back.
“It’s as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Susie explained. “When I first came into Freedom House, I just wanted to find a job, a place to live and move out; I didn’t care about anything else. I figured I could do it myself. But I realized I couldn’t do it myself. I needed something stronger in my life, I needed God all along and I just never knew it.”
Susie, one of four kids from a middle-class family, never thought she’d end up homeless in need of a shelter. Her father is a retired police officer, her mom always worked, her brother attends school in Madison, one sister lives and works in town, another in Indiana – everything seemed just fine. But she married young, at the age of 18; her husband spent the next 20 years in and out of jail; and Susie learned to cope as a single mom of eight. A year ago she first entered Freedom House when she had no job and no home, but only stayed a month until she found a job. “I took the first place that came along just to get out,” she said. “Never paid attention to what they were trying to teach me – I just walked out.” When that duplex was foreclosed, Susie found herself and her kids homeless once again.
This time something was different. Susie shipped off three of her younger children to a sister in Indiana and two teenage sons opted to live with their dad because his house was just across the street from their school. It was 9 months before the whole family was together and that’s something Susie is passionate about changing. Allowing Christ into her life gave her the direction she needed to admit she couldn’t do things on her own.
Now, she takes every class seriously, allows the staff of Freedom House to mentor her and her children, and is well on the path to changing things around for her and her children – for life! She’s got a job and is looking for the right place to live, unwilling to accept less than the best for her family. “I’ve given everything to God, now I go to him in prayer and He helps me cope. I’ve found a job, I’m learning to be a better parent, and I’m going back to school to get my LPN designation.” (Currently Susie works as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in a nursing home.) She credits her life turn-around to the dedicated staff at Freedom House.
“Everything is different here – it’s a real family atmosphere. You don’t just come in, grab your tray and sit down to eat the food – it’s a real family environment. They take you to church, they mentor you, they’re absolutely wonderful with children,” she gushed. “Quite simply, they change lives.”
And that’s the mission of Freedom House – to change lives, one family at a time.