When residents of a community learn about others living without stable housing, they often make assumptions:
Almost all these folks have mental health or substance abuse issues or both.
People living homeless probably can’t hold a job, or don’t even want to work.
Many living without shelter have somehow caused their own problems.
Read Samantha’s story below and get ready to have your assumptions turned upside down. This positive, capable, dedicated wife and mother found her family without a place to call home just a few years ago. Here’s how it happened.
Taking a Different Path
Not a shy person, Samantha will readily explain that her childhood was rough. Both her parents had multiple issues and could not care for themselves properly, let alone bring up children. But instead of allowing early experiences to set her on a similar path, Samantha resolved she would live her life differently. “It’s all about choices,” she says. “You can be a victim or a survivor.”
Fast forward to adulthood. Samantha married and had four daughters. She and her family were living in Everett, where her husband, a drywall installer, had worked for the same company for 20+ years. Samantha also had a job and all was well.
Then, the family had the opportunity to take over the avocado business belonging to Samantha’s in laws. The six pulled up stakes and moved to California. Through no fault of Samantha’s family, the arrangement didn’t work out. The group came back to Washington – with fewer resources than they had when they left – and lived with her sister-in-law for a few months.
They found housing in Oak Harbor, but rent increases soon had the family looking for a new apartment. Unfortunately, recent car trouble had depleted their savings and they did not have the funds for a deposit. Samantha and her husband decided to put their household items in storage and move in to the San Juan Motel in Anacortes until they could find more a more permanent place to live.
Samantha put her computer skills to work and started seeking help. She discovered that nearly every program she contacted “wanted to split the family up.” Samantha refused those options. She eventually got in touch with the Anacortes Family Center and found out her family was eligible for the program.
Samantha and her family benefited from their time at AFC in multiple ways. She says, “they helped me get some much-needed services” at the time. She remembers that the Rent Ready program assisted with applications for various rental agencies. Living at AFC allowed the family to relax, de-stress, and save money for deposits on a new place. Samantha also had the chance to serve as a volunteer at AFC. Giving back is important to her – and putting in many hours helping with facilities and administration ultimately led to a full-time job with the organization.
Reflecting on her time as a client, Samantha has observations to share. “I like that the center encourages counseling for all family members, and that they connect you with other service agencies depending on your needs.” She feels AFC truly wants clients to be successful and happy.
According to this AFC program graduate and employee,“The staff wants the very best for their clients and provides all the resources for clients to be productive and self-sustaining people.”