June 30, 2020
This month, we cheer as Sarah graduates from Bridge of Hope Greater Denver. Living in her own home without assistance seems like a lifetime removed from being homeless and sleeping in a different church every week with her granddaughter. Yet, that was just 18 months ago.
For most of her life, Sarah lived comfortably. She was married and had a career, she was financially stable, and on the outside, it looked like Sarah was doing well. Behind closed doors, Sarah suffered in an abusive marriage for nearly two decades. When she finally left her spouse, she was forced to battle breast cancer on her own. Already in a precarious financial position after a divorce and the burden of medical bills, she used the last of her financial resources to help with her son’s ongoing legal battles. When the judge sentenced her son to prison, Sarah became the sole caregiver to her six-year-old granddaughter.
Sarah desperately wanted to provide a safe and stable environment for her granddaughter, but the job she had didn’t provide enough income for the deposit and rent for an apartment in the Denver area. To survive, Sarah and her granddaughter joined a shelter program and slept in a different church each week. Miraculously, Sarah continued at her job through all of this and made sure her granddaughter stayed in school.
Then Sarah was connected with Bridge of Hope through one of our shelter partners. Generous Bridge of Hope donors provided the funds for an apartment deposit and rental assistance, and Sarah and her granddaughter were able to move into a home of their own.
Within a few months of joining the program, Sarah received a promotion at her job. Her volunteer team and the Bridge of Hope staff were so proud of her work ethic and determination. She was on the road to self-sufficiency.
“I felt secure. Like I was going to have food, clothes, and shelter for myself. I haven’t had to worry about being put out on the streets.” -Sarah
After four promising months in the program, Sarah was on a great track, hitting all of her goals on her path to self-sufficiency. Then, while at work, she witnessed a brutal crime. She sat with the victim for nearly 30 minutes while he fought for his life and they waited for the ambulance. Sarah was deeply traumatized. Simple day to day tasks became challenging. Getting back onto the road to self-sufficiency seemed like a lost hope.
During this incredibly hard time, Sarah’s neighboring volunteer team was her anchor. They ensured that she and her granddaughter received not only the physical support they needed, but the emotional support as well. They drove Sarah to counseling appointments and Sarah’s granddaughter to school. They welcomed Sarah and her granddaughter into their home for many nights when Sarah was afraid to stay in her apartment. They provided friendship and emotional support when Sarah needed it most. When asked about her volunteers, Sarah said, “They are amazing. They have loved me. They have prayed with me. They have taken me in as family. They have never forgotten me or my granddaughter.”
Sarah became especially close with two of the volunteers. When speaking about them she shared,
“You’ve got to have five best friends in life before you die. They are two of them.”
After witnessing the crime, Bridge of Hope staff spent weeks advocating on Sarah’s behalf with her employer, which resulted in her receiving worker’s compensation. These resources allowed Sarah to take the time she needed to recover and get in a mentally healthy state. Over the next several months, Bridge of Hope staff coached, encouraged, and supported Sarah during weekly case management meetings. Sarah says this of the Bridge of Hope staff,
“It’s like, I’m walking here and you all are walking with me. Not in front or behind, but with me.”
This is one of the distinguishing components of the Bridge of Hope program. Families facing homelessness are socially isolated and lack communities of support. The team of volunteers from a Christian faith community, or “neighboring volunteers” become the community for these single moms and their children. We have seen time and time again, just like with Sarah, this makes all the difference for a family on the path to self-sufficiency.
In time, Sarah took a new job that she loved. We are excited to share that Sarah has graduated from Bridge of Hope! We are so grateful for the opportunity to have partnered with Sarah and her granddaughter on their path to a better future. Nobody could have made it through such a challenging time on their own. As a result of Bridge of Hope volunteers and donors, Sarah and her granddaughter didn’t have to.