“I feel able to take on my situation much better now. I’m learning to plan and think things through.”
Faith is used to challenges. Being on her own since her parents passed away when she was 16 forced her to become resourceful and self-reliant. Not that it was easy.
“I was pushing seventeen,” she recalls. “I was very confused and looking for answers. I’ve always been determined and resilient. I had few people to turn to for help, so I had no other choice.”
Faith stayed with a distant family member in New Jersey, got a job at a department store, and began to save money until she could afford her own apartment. But later, when circumstances caused her to lose her apartment, she and her young son Messiah bounced between shelters, hotels, and rented rooms. Although she was receiving government assistance, including food stamps, Faith knew this wasn’t the life she wanted for her family.
“I needed something reliable. I needed stability, but I had no game plan,” she says.
Years ago, when she’d first entered a shelter as a teenager, she remembered a woman talking about an organization that helped families battling homelessness. That organization was Family Promise. Faith found Family Promise Union County, NJ, and she and Messiah, now three, entered the shelter program last spring.
Then COVID hit.
Family Promise Union County modified its shelter model to abide by quarantine restrictions. At first, they put families from the shelter program in hotels, but as the weeks passed, the strong relationships they’d developed with landlords in the community enabled them to move families into vacant apartments as they became available. Faith and Messiah have been sharing an apartment with another family for the past few months while they wait for the health crisis to subside and for life to return to “normal.”
But that doesn’t mean Family Promise is out of the picture or that Faith’s work is done. In addition to ongoing case management, Faith has earned a security officer license, and Family Promise is assisting with her job search, including help with her resume and mock interviews. She continues to hone budgeting skills and is working with Family Promise to find childcare for Messiah for when she eventually finds employment. And Family Promise has provided exercise equipment like yoga mats, jump ropes, and fitness watches so she, along with other families in the program, can participate in Family Promise’s virtual group fitness activities, something Faith says has helped keep her sane throughout the quarantine.
The genuine care she has experienced at Family Promise is one of the things Faith says differentiates it from traditional shelters.
“Having lost my mom, I was looking for guidance I never really had,” she says. “I never feel judged, and everything [Family Promise says] they’ll do, they’ve done. I’m always learning something.”
She adds, “I feel able to take on my situation much better now. I’m learning to plan and think things through.”
Faith truly embodies her name: she has every hope that life will continue to improve for her and Messiah.
“I feel a sense of purpose now,” she says. “Before Family Promise, I was at the bottom. There was no way to go but up. You just have to trust the process. Family Promise is helping me get to a better place and obtain that stability.”