Please Note

Names in the following testimonies have been changed in order to protect client confidentiality.

Jenny’s Dream

By Paige Swift, Lydia Place Case Manager

During a home visit, Jenny once said, “If my mom had made different choices, things would not have been as difficult for me.” The experience of a growing up with unstable housing and a difficult home life prevented Jenny from completing High School. School was challenging for her and when no one seemed to care if she graduated or not, she decided to drop out and get a job.

With the support of Lydia Place, Jenny and her three sons are living in an apartment as a part of the Family Housing Program. Jenny has since enrolled in classes and is working to attain her GED. With aspirations to attend a Medical Assistant Program, Jenny’s dream is to become a Registered Nurse. She looks forward to the day she can show everyone, including herself, that she is capable of getting a college degree. Jenny frequently comments about how exciting it is to be able to make a plan for her life, and to be able to have the support to make the decisions now, that will give her and her sons more opportunities in the future.

Jenny is a firm believer in her children and their abilities, she is not afraid to ask the tough questions and seek knowledge to solve the root of a challenge. In this last year, she has been able to obtain childcare for her two youngest children and has worked tirelessly to be an advocate for her oldest son with special needs to ensure he has access to the education he deserves.

Significant Strides

By Kathleen Morton, Lydia Place Case Manager

Marie sits on her couch reflecting on the time she has spent in Lydia Place’s Supportive Services program over the years. She speaks of recent moments of bonding with her child on a deeper level recently that she has never been able to do in past with the support of Parent Child Interaction Therapy; expressing gratitude for these special moments that she has with her two children.

Marie has worked incredibly hard over the past few years to ensure that her children are well cared for. Not only does she work closely with doctors to address challenging behaviors but with the children’s counselors. With support of Lydia Place’s Parents as Teachers (PAT) program, Marie’s advocacy for her child, and the support of the school, her children have the support they need to find success in learning as well as in the home.

She has said many times that her children are her reason for staying sober. Marie takes an active role in her recovery and has been clean for 9 years. This past fall, she began the prerequisites for the Chemical Dependency Professional Program at WCC fulfilling her dream of higher education and financial security for her family.

Marie has made significant strides in financial stability; working on budgets, accessing resources when needed, paying off past debts and building her credit.

Marie vision for her family is to give her children the opportunities that she never had growing up in a safe home where they did not have to be put in compromising situations. When she graduates from our program, she hopes to find a home with a back yard for her children to play.

Celebrating Growth

By Lauren Oswald, Lydia Place Parent Educator

Casey arrives home, unbuckles the kids and lifts them into the new freedom of their front yard. She takes a deep breath and shifts away from the long work day. This week, like most in the past year, she is balancing her full-time job that often requires overtime on top of being a single parent to her two lovely daughters, Erin and Macy. As we make our way inside to begin our visit, Casey brings her focus to her children and reflects on the events of the past week, most importantly, an exciting and special outing to the zoo. Casey turns to her youngest, Erin, who is two and a half, “Do you remember what animals we saw this weekend? A giraffe?” Erin’s response is written all over her face in the joy of that memory, as she wiggles with excitement, “YEAH!!!”

Before their most current family home, Casey and her two daughters struggled to find housing, each night looked a little different. They spent a few months living in a transitional shelter, but her goal was to find her own housing. Before long, she and her two daughters moved a bit out of town, to a space they could call home. Casey is constantly setting goals for herself, striving to improve in parenting, in her personal health, and in her work. When she started the Parents as Teachers program at Lydia Place, Casey’s focus was to learn how to enjoy playing with her children. She wanted to work on building strong relationships with her girls, and providing them with a kind of love and support that she didn’t have as a kid. Today, Casey’s parenting goals reflect the age of her children and their development. With Erin, a high energy and fiercely independent toddler and Macy an attentive, strong willed, creative kindergartner – Mom is always on her toes.

Casey recently experienced the “benefits ledge”. She received a notice that due to her increased income in November (one of those months she worked overtime to meet the demand of her company) she would no longer be eligible for childcare benefits. With the high cost of childcare, they wouldn’t be able to afford this cost, meaning Erin, wouldn’t be able to attend the daycare. In order to take care of her daughter without daycare, Casey might have to quit a job she has worked hard in for almost two years, this would force her back into unemployment. As many clients at Lydia Place and throughout the community gain financial independence, they approach this ledge and while it’s possible to overcome, more often than not, it inhibits progress.

With an appeal in process, Casey has been able to keep Erin in daycare for the time being, but is uncertain what the future might look like. She continues to work diligently, to set goals, and to make the most of her resources. She continues with the PAT program, and shares gratitude for a set time to sit down with her girls, to do a new activity together, talk about her family and celebrate their growth.

Bellingham’s Benny and June

By Jeremy Caplan, Lydia Place Program Supervisor

Benny and June have three wonderful children, friendly neighbors, and a goals for the future. These parents are grateful to be able to set goals that would not have been feasible one year ago.

Before moving into their family’s current home with the help of the Lydia Place Community Rehousing Program, Benny and June spent most nights sleeping in cardboard tents or underneath parked semitrailers. Temporary housing came and went, and they were forced to live on the streets for years at a time. Despite all of the challenges of recovering from a drug addiction, fleeing domestic violence, and carrying an unborn child, Benny and June found the resilience in themselves to accomplish everything they set out to achieve.

Benny now has a full-time job where he continues to improve his skills and take on new responsibilities for his team. June gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Once initially excited to “have our own floor to sleep on” and “just feel human,” Benny and June are most grateful to have a safe and stable home for their recently reunited children. They love spending time with neighboring families and watching their children play together in the park. Thanks to simple luxuries like having refrigerator and stove, Benny and June enjoy being able to cook warm, homemade meals for their family.

Now living off the streets for the longest time since their teenage years, Benny and June are setting goals of continuing to become “better parents and better people.” June plans to volunteer at the Humane Society and become a foster parent for animals in need of higher levels of care. Benny looks forward to being able to help others who are still experiencing homelessness by handing out sleeping bags during the winter and by simply “listening.”

Doing It Right This Time

By Hannah Vandermay, Lydia Place Parent Educator

5 years ago Stacy was living in a shelter, working hard to meet all of the requirements set forth by CPS to allow her to have her young son returned to her. She had become CPS involved when she was evicted from a subsidized housing program and was homeless, struggling with an alcohol addiction and trying to get away from an abusive partner. She went to treatment, became sober, committing deeply to her treatment goals. She also worked hard to set boundaries with her ex-partner, whose abuse had been the primary cause of her losing her housing. CPS recognized her efforts and quickly returned her son to her care and eventually closed her CPS case. Despite finally being reunited with her son and feeling safe for the first time in a long while, Stacy was facing a housing debt of over $3,000, had poor credit, and very little income. She felt stuck in the shelter and could not see how to move forward.

When a space came available in the Lydia Place Family Services Program, Stacy jumped at the chance for a fresh start. She began working as many hours as was possible, working at a local retailer and cleaning for a motel. She met with her case manager weekly, continued to follow through with her treatment goals and was regularly looking for opportunities to increase her income. She met with the owner of the unit available and had an opportunity to tell her story and share the progress she had made. She advocated for herself sharing about her past, her current goals and the hopes she had for her child’s future. After talking with her, the landlord made the decision to override her poor credit and property debt and allowed her to rent from him with the support from Lydia Place. Stacy met with her case manager weekly in the beginning, pouring over her budget, asking for support in communicating with her neighbors, her landlord and doing everything she could to “do it right this time.”

Stacy voluntarily enrolled in Lydia Place’s Parents as Teachers program, committing to work with a home visitor twice per month to support the needs of her son and build her practice and knowledge around his growth and development.

While Stacy received a subsidy for her rent for the first six months of her lease, she quickly became independent of the financial support from Lydia Place, but chose to continue with case management. She regularly meets with her case manager, asking for assistance with her budget, home organization, parenting support and referrals to other community providers as needed. Stacy shared with her case manager at one visit that she knew she needed to do right by the housing program she had been evicted from and that it was important to her that she repair her credit. She began a payment plan with the rental property and in time had paid off her rental debt completely to the previous landlord, while continuing to pay her rent on time at her current unit.

Stacy has a full-time job working for a reliable employer and after years of working evenings and weekends, is able to work Monday through Friday and can spend quality time with her son, who has special needs and requires a significant level of care. She is in her second year of the Parents as Teacher’s program and has collaborated with her home visitor to help her son transition smoothly into kindergarten and build healthy communication with his teaching and support team at school. Stacy also recently passed her driving test and is looking forward to getting a car in the new year.