It goes without saying that homelessness is a stressful situation. Family Promise’s emphasis on trauma-informed care ensures all aspects of the crisis are considered when working with families in need. But families also learn to manage this stress in their own ways. For one dad, that involved writing a book.
Carey Smith was a single father of two toddlers who was in the process of losing his home when he found Family Promise. Over the next few years, he worked with two Affiliates in eastern Pennsylvania, Family Promise of Philadelphia and Family Promise Montco in Ambler, to regain stability. In addition to meals, shelter, and housing, Family Promise helped him with budgeting to clean up his credit history and begin to rebuild his life.
“Family Promise was a great steppingstone,” says Carey. “They helped me save money and manage expenses.”
Despite his hard work, Carey still faced obstacles, including the struggle to find reliable childcare and a long work commute with an old, unpredictable minivan. Ultimately, those hurdles cost Carey his job of 11 years. Then, his van broke down beyond repair. But there was a glimmer of hope – that same week, Family Promise called to say they had a car for him.
Throughout their ordeal, Carey was concerned about the toll it was taking on his children. At one point during his time at Family Promise, he decided to write a children’s story to distract himself and his kids.
“I just wanted to do a little story about positivity,” he says. “I wrote it on my phone over a couple of weeks.”
When he read the story, about a girl named Peggy Spaghetti, to his children, they wanted to see pictures. Another parent at Family Promise suggested he explore publishing his book. Carey used tax refund money and some savings to hire an editor and an illustrator.
“It took about two years, which seemed so long, but I didn’t realize that two years is actually a short time for publishing a book,” Carey notes.
Today, the family is settled in their own home, Carey has a steady job, and the kids are thriving in school. Carey continues to write and has published five children’s books since his days at Family Promise, with another currently in the works. He has given readings in the Philadelphia area, and his books are available for purchase on Amazon and his own website.
“I met a lot of good people at Family Promise,” Carey says. “They motivated me, they were there for my children, and they showed me I wasn’t alone.”
Carey still has concerns about the future and wants to ensure his family keeps moving forward. Like all parents, he wants his children to have every opportunity in life.
“I won’t feel comfortable until my kids grow up and get jobs and move on with their own families,” he says. “As we learned, anything can happen at any time. I didn’t know any of this would happen to me, but finding Family Promise helped us through, and I want to make sure we keep going.”
You can follow Carey and his stories on Instagram: @Christophercareystories