My name is Michelle and I would like to share my experience that my husband Tyler and I had with CAC.
I would like to call CAC my launch pad for a new and manageable life.
In 2015 I was at the lowest point of my life. Due to choices and certain circumstances, I found myself sleeping in my car with my husband. We lost our two children in a guardian case against Tyler’s mother. We lost our home and every possession we’ve ever owned. We got evicted in July and we were trying to stay in motels with my waitressing wage. We made it until about the beginning of October. We could not keep up with $350.00 a week on top of our car payment. We gave it our last who-raaah and we could no longer afford motels.
We decided to stay put in Watertown because there was a food pantry within walking distance to the cemetery we slept at at night. I had also seen on the Internet that a place called CAC could help with motel vouchers, food and possibly housing. I was so embarrassed about my situation, but I knew the only way I could get help was being honest and open. Man, it was humbling!
I showed up at CAC with papers to prove our evictions and homelessness. We were cold, starving, and exhausted, and looking back I believe we were both losing our sanity.
I met caseworkers Barb and Jen…my angels..and I started frantically trying to explain why were here. (Tyler couldn’t even talk with us..he actually passed out on the table..I do think he was sleep deprived and had given up.)
Barb and Jen gave us refugee. They listened as we cried about our kids. They fought to find every resource that we were eligible for. They gave us donations of jackets, hats and blankets to keep warm at night. They even gave me sanitary products. I cried when I realized, I could cross that off my list of stresses and focus on the task at hand.
We were determined NOT to let these ladies down.
They had given us a “hand out” to start making things better.. so we could earn a “hand up” to make them new.
Barb and Jen gave us resources for jobs. They helped us follow through with these jobs, as our desire to continue with life had dwindled.They encouraged us and told us we could do it. They helped us get a weekly room in Watertown that we could pay for with my waitressing job. This place to rest my head, gave me the energy to keep pushing, to get better jobs and stable housing.
Did you know a person is homeless for an average of five years? Did you know that most never make it out??
It took us one year to get out of homelessness and a year and a half to get out of motels.
We moved to Florida to get housing and eventually get our kids back. Tyler and I got our first studio apartment in Daytona Beach, FL in Oct of 2017.
I was at death’s door, that day I walked into CAC for the first time. They showed me how to keep pushing even when all is lost. They gave us a warm place to hang out while we searched for jobs, because it was so cold and we had no where to keep warm. CAC was my lighthouse.
I don’t know if Barb and Jen and the whole CAC organization will ever really understand what a turning point they were in our lives.
We have 2 full time jobs, our own place that we pay for, and we bought a 1999 Ford Explorer that is now paid off. We are not on food stamps, state insurance or any other government or charity aid. Our relationship with our kids’ grandmother is improving because our life continues to improve more and more each year.
I am so thankful for programs like CAC, but I’m most grateful for the two beautiful ladies that loved us and believed in us!!!