April 4, 2023
Sarah is a bright and cheerful woman. We began the conversation by discussing our workouts, how she feels healthier, and coaching her friends and son to make healthier choices. This is just like any normal conversation I would have with any other mom. Yet, Sarah has struggled in a way that most moms couldn’t imagine.
Just over a year ago, she didn’t feel safe in her home, and she and her son slept at different friends’ houses from night to night.
Sarah grew up in southern California, surrounded by a large family. When Sarah was 23, she and her long-time boyfriend were living together and had a son. Things were going well initially, but her boyfriend hit her when her son was only three months old. Sarah didn’t want her son growing up around abuse, so she immediately left and moved in with her parents.
Sarah’s family was her community; they cared for each other and helped each other out. There were several times that Sarah set a goal to leave and get a place for herself and her son but was held back because family members needed her. About three years ago, Sarah had almost saved enough money to move out and get a place for her and her son, Adrian, when her mother had a stroke. Sarah felt the burden of caring for her mother physically and financially. Her mother was given a 2-3 month timeline for recovery. Since her mother was the primary breadwinner in the family, Sarah recognized that the family needed her income to bridge the gap while her mom recovered.
Sarah continued working full-time. She was her mother’s primary caregiver and frequently took time off work to take her mom to numerous doctor and physical therapy appointments. As a result, Sarah’s income decreased, and she drained her savings. The idea of having her own home seemed farther away than ever.
As this was going on, her relationship with her father was deteriorating. He had mental health issues, and he and Sarah often disagreed and argued about her mother’s care. During this time, her dad’s mental health declined, and he spiraled out of control. Sarah’s car broke down, forcing her to share a car with her dad. One day Sarah needed to use his truck to get to work. Their disagreement escalated and turned violent, and her dad physically assaulted her. Sarah’s son watched all of this happen.
“I never want to put my son in that situation; that is why I left his dad. I knew that if we stayed here, we wouldn’t be able to heal from this”.
She was desperate to find a way to get out. But moving wasn’t an option as, at this point, she was in the hole financially from taking off so much work time to care for her mother. She and Adrian stayed with friends and slept on their couches so they wouldn’t have to stay with her parents. “I wondered if we could live in my car for a few months while I saved up to move out.”
During this time, Sarah searched for a way to find safe and stable housing for her and her son.
She applied to many different programs for single moms facing homelessness. There were very long waitlists for each program. She continued to care for her mother, but “if I didn’t have to be at my parent’s house, I wasn’t.” It was a difficult time for her son as well. His grandfather, the male figure in his life, had hurt his mom. “He was confused and was very angry with my dad.”
One day in her search for help, she found an article that mentioned Bridge of Hope Greater Denver. She felt that God drew her to our program. “I found an article that shared several programs for single moms, and Bridge of Hope was listed as one, so I applied. What’s funny is that I have not been able to find that article since!”
I emailed and connected with Julie, one of the Bridge of Hope Case Managers. Sarah was welcomed into the Bridge of Hope Program within a short time. “It didn’t feel real.”
From that moment on, Sarah and Adrian began the journey to healing. Sarah continues to distance herself from her dad, but her son, Adrian, has begun to rebuild his relationship with Sarah’s dad, which she is grateful for. Adrian seems to have forgiven him. Her Neighboring Volunteer group was her support system during her first year at Bridge of Hope. When she talks about them, she beams! “My first year in the program, I was just staying afloat, but it felt like things were always falling apart. I needed that group”. Sarah felt that if it weren’t for the friendship and prayer of her Neighboring Volunteer group. She wouldn’t have been able to make it. “I would have probably fallen into a deeper depression than I was already in. They’re an inspiring group.” Sarah’s Neighboring volunteers encouraged her and kept her going.
Sarah has worked full-time through all of this at a grocery store chain for the past 10+ years. She has expressed that she is ready for more. Years ago, Sarah started college but hadn’t completed her degree. She recently received a scholarship opening the door for her to complete her bachelor’s degree. “I want to work with kids in the ESL program and help make changes that I felt held me back.”
Her son is doing well and is what she would describe as a typical middle schooler. “He acts like he doesn’t want me around sometimes, then wants a hug and a kiss before bed.” Sarah is confident that she can reach a place to support herself and her son once she completes her degree, but “I want to be financially well off. I don’t want just to get by. I used to only look at the here and now, but being in Bridge of Hope has given me the stability to think of bigger goals”.
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