One of the great pleasures we have is watching a woman’s journey gain momentum toward the day she will leave FL and move into her own apartment. For some it has been years since they have actually lived in their own place. Some women have never had their own apartment or home. Today a lady came in with an unfamiliar air about her. She asked for Quita, then Sherry. I noticed she was nervously shifting back and forth from one foot to another. When Sherry approached she blurted it out: “I got the keys to my own apartment today!” And I saw a smile on this woman I had never seen before. She said “I am so excited.”
And so it begins… time spent at First Light has led to another fresh start. This is one of the few remaining Year 2 Shelter + Care participants who had been approved for the program and was waiting for the apartment she liked to be okayed. Once finding an apartment there must be an inspection and approval by the Housing Authority. Once it passes inspection, the lease can be signed and it’s time to move in. This process does not happen in just a few weeks. The social worker is supporting the woman throughout each stage, doing case management, assisting with paperwork and providing transportation when needed. It is a partnership – both the social worker and the lady are planning and recognizing areas where she needs assistance and setting reasonable goals to achieve along the way and after moving.
All participants meet at First Light once a month to attend life skills training, classes on budgeting, nutrition, and the new stresses of living in their own apartments. As you can imagine, there are new challenges to face with the new lifestyle and we never want a woman to feel alone in this. They follow the case plan they designed together. If AA meetings or support groups are a part of the plan, we are monitoring the lady’s compliance to attendance at meetings and the overall case plan.
It is a big step for many of our emergency shelter guests who go into this program. And it’s a step that is cause for rejoicing. The jingling of those apartment keys is high point in her journey toward independent living.
-By Deb Everson, Assistant Director