Monday, September 10, 2018 Success Stories

To Ground Zero and Back

Collisa recalls exactly where she was during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11 – stuck on a New York City subway.

911 story pic 1A single mother and former teacher-turned-police officer, Collisa was heading to graduate school classes when tragedy struck. She was called to action and spent the next two weeks    volunteering    at Ground Zero    during her time off.

By the end of September, however,    stress    pushed    her to resign    from the force.

Desperate to escape    the    haunting    memories,    she    moved around    the country    with her    young    daughter, eventually    returning to teaching.    After the birth of her second daughter,    the family    moved    to Georgia    to be    with    Collisa’s    partner,    and life settled down…until her partner abruptly turned them out of his home.

Collisa was about to start a new job,    but    the family had nowhere to    go. She    secured    a loan    to pay    for a hotel room – a temporary solution – and soon    found    the Family Promise Affiliate in    Athens, Georgia.

Family Promise became the support system Collisa needed, providing emergency shelter and helping her navigate her next steps. Once back on her feet,    Collisa    was asked to serve as the Affiliate’s interim Service    Director, eventually    accepting an offer to join the Affiliate full time.

“Families’ faces light up with they hear my story,” says Collisa. “It    gives them hope.”911 story pic 2

She says her experience stemming from 9/11 gives her a unique perspective.

“When you’re dealing with trauma, there are no rules. That’s how it was during 9/11, and that’s how it feels to be homeless. But people don’t think that way if they’ve never experienced a crisis like that,” Collisa explains.

Collisa also helps train    Family Promise    volunteers.    Educated and employed    when she lost her home,    she    feels her story changes people’s assumptions of homelessness.

“I’ve been there.     I know     you can’t assume anything.    I know    how    families     in this situation     think and feel,” she says,    adding, “That’s what’s    so    great about    Family    Promise:    we    give    families    more than shelter,    we    help them    focus on healing and moving forward.”

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