Category Archives: Client Stories

An Attitude of Gratitude

It takes character to remain positive in the face of adversity and loss. Robert definitely has character!

A big man, Robert has a booming voice that could be heard calling out greetings and encouragement to other clients. He was eager to help other clients and Room staff. He was generous with his smiles and his laughter. All while dealing with setbacks in his own life.

A disabled father of a robust 12-year-old son, Robert lost his housing when legal issues forced him to move out of his fiancée’s home. Soon after, while staying at Room at the Inn, Robert learned that his fiancée had died. Two crushing blows, and yet Robert continued to be positive for others and focused on creating a home for his son.

“I’m just grateful,” he said. “I am grateful for Room at the Inn because it led me to become spiritually connected again. I found I had extra time during the day, so I picked up my Bible. Now I’m reading it every day. It’s helped make me stronger.”

“Robert is a gentle man and a gentleman,” said Stephanie Turck, CDP, the volunteer coordinator at Room at the Inn. “He was always so positive.”

He was also an inspiration. Sister Stephanie tells the story of an adult volunteer who came looking for Robert one day after he moved out. She was disappointed to have missed him, she said, because he had had a profound effect on her life. “I love that man,” she said. “Because of him, I’ve gotten back to reading my Bible daily.”

Robert has moved on to a longer-term shelter until permanent housing for individuals on Disability becomes available. Before leaving Room at the Inn, he admitted to being sorry to go. “I will miss the people the Lord put in my life here,” he said. “They were so loving and kind to me and my son. I’m going to miss it. I’m just so grateful.”

And, really, we’re grateful to him. Robert is one of those people the Lord put in our lives to remember what character is all about.

Touching the Future

Nikita Carlton-Barnes says that her whole life would be different without Room at the Inn – and she was never a client!

Nikita’s mother lost their home when Nikita was a teenager. While Nikita and her little brother stayed with their grandfather, their mother, Susan, came to Room at the Inn. That kind of experience is tough on a young person. As Nikita says, “I remember being unsure about everything – what was going to happen … what the future would hold. Everyone wants the perfect family and here’s my mom staying at a shelter!”

But Susan’s stay at Room at the Innturned out to be a positive experience for the whole family: by visiting and staying at the night sites a few times, Nikita came to realize she was not alone. “There were other kids like me, and there were other adults like my mom. It was a glimmer of hope for me: my life would be different.”

Now an adult with a daughter of her own, Nikita commented that shelter is just one of the many things her mother gained through Room at the Inn– and perhaps not the most valuable. Susan remains in contact with other women who were staying at Room at the Innwith her. “They have a network of support for each other,” Nikita explained. “It helps to see someone else who was there with you. It inspires you to keep moving. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to knock you down, but at the same time, the little things – like knowing someone cares – can inspire you to keep going.”

Susan has come to Room at theInnfor help since Nikita’s teen years. Client Coordinator Angela Hamilton helped her complete her disability application, and she’s finally been approved. Angie also helped Susan find housing. “Things are finally coming together,” Nikita says. “It’s a huge weight off my shoulders to know my mother is safe and has secure housing. I sing the praises of Room at the Inn.”

Dawn’s Miracle

I am a single, mature lady with four grown children. I found my “miracle” at Room at the Inn.

When I ran out of money to pay rent, my boyfriend and I were told to leave the place we lived. It was on a Sunday. I remember we didn’t have anywhere to go, nor did we know who to ask about getting help. We walked and walked for two days and slept outside for two nights. My leg was hurting badly because I have a Sciatica nerve problem that causes me much pain.

Without insurance, I went to the emergency room at DePaul Hospital for help. I was in pain and didn’t care if I lived or died. I was in bad shape and very depressed. After a while, I asked to speak to someone to get some help and a place to stay. I was referred to Social Services who gave us bus tickets and the (Homeless) Hotline phone number. We spent that night at the hospital emergency room.

The next day, I was referred to Room at the Inn, and it was a miracle. I received counseling from BJC HealthCare and assistance finding an apartment. I received help applying for disability. I also reapplied for SSI. I met weekly with the public health nurse.

Angie (Client Coordinator Angela Hamilton) encouraged me to apply for housing with my BJC caseworker. BJC put me in a housing program called Supportive Community Living Program (SCLP). Through SCLP monies; BJC pays my rent. Room at theInnis paying the amount of my rent that exceeded BJC’s maximum. I also get help with my utilities and food. This program is temporary, until my disability is approved. Then I will pay for my own housing. I stayed at Room at theInnuntil my housing was ready.

My attitude has changed and the right people have helped me. My prayers have been answered after such a long time. And, today I am having a good day. Room at the Inn is my “miracle.”

Mom of Five Finds Home

My name is Diedra, and I am a single mom of five children.

Their ages are nine, five, three, two and the baby is five weeks old. The order is a boy, girl, boy, girl and GIRL. And yes, the baby girl broke the tie!

This is my second visit to Room at the Inn, once in 2005 and now, arriving in late May, 2009. My boyfriend and I had a home with the children. I was working as a customer service representative, and my goal was to be at this job for a minimum of two years. However, after eight months, I left to have my baby. In only four more months, I would have had maternity benefits, but with this timing, I lost my job.

With no money for my house payment, I lost my house. My family and I had nowhere to go. We were homeless and I had a new baby and four other children to tend to. What was I to do?

About four years ago, I came to Room at the Inn for the first time and received the help I needed to get back on my feet. Now I need help not only for myself but for my five children. The staff at Room at the Inn motivated me to search for a job, which I was able to do right there at the computer. Also, Angie Hamilton, the client coordinator, informed us when low-income housing had openings.

I am grateful that Room at the Inn had room for me and my children. The staff helped me get back on my feet. In addition to safe places to stay, they provided provide guidance, classes, help, food etc. They also gave me access to the following services:

  • Parents as Teachers
  • REAP – Budgeting classes every Friday.
  • St. LouisCountynurse visits
  • Building Blocks – for children’s assessment and referrals
  • Community Alternatives

And, this is my story.

(Editor’s note: Room at theInn helped Diedra and her family move into housing provided by Humanitri Transitional Housing.)

Former Client Becomes Outstanding Volunteer

It sounds trite, but it’s true: attitude can make all the difference. We see it at Room at the Inn.

Clients who approach their plans with a positive attitude and a willingness to work are the ones who succeed. Jessica, 27, is a perfect example: Jessica stayed at Room at the Inn in the winter of 2007. Now she is getting practicum hours at the shelter as she works toward an associate degree in social work from Florissant Valley Community College.

Jessica’s homeless episode in 2007was not the first time she found shelter at Room at the Inn. When she was 12, her mother became homeless, and Jessica and her brother came to Room at the Inn with their mother. When her instructor at Florissant Valley Community College began to talk about options for practicum work, Jessica already knew where she wanted to share her talents. “I’ve got love for the people!” she says. “I’ve been through it, and I want to give back for the help I’ve received.” Jessica plans to use her degree to continue working with the homeless.

Jessica still lives in the transitional shelter house Room at the Inn helped her to find in 2007. Her rent is based on her income, and is kept manageable so that she can save toward buying her own home at the end of five years. In addition, Room at the Inn helped Jessica with utility bills and doctor appointments. “The people at the congregations really helped me!” Jessica said, noting that they were flexible with schedules because she had a job while living at the shelter. The other clients helped, too, by accommodating her schedule and helping with her chores.

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