When a family joins our continuum of care, the parent(s) are at a crisis point where they cannot provide the basic needs of food and shelter for their children. The background reasons for their homelessness are diverse as are their strengths and needs. Homelessness impacts all members of the family and success is measured by individual achievements that ensure the ultimate goal of achieving and sustaining independence.
Every day at IHNSC brings challenges and frustrations to our clients but they persevere and their achievements lead them to self-sufficiency. Success through education, “starting all over” and addressing health needs serve as examples of our clients’ accomplishments.
“Empowerment through education” is a cardinal principle of our case management. Educational achievements are taking place on all levels with our clients.
- Three IHNSC moms just completed certifications to gain employment in healthcare. One client is now certified as a Licensed Practical Nurse and 2 other clients have just completed training for their Home Health Aide certification. All three of the mothers identify continuing education to progress toward becoming Registered Nurses as a case management goal.
- Two clients who experienced the special challenges of being teenagers in a homeless shelter are on their way to completing college degrees. One is entering Junior year in a 5 year BS/Masters track and the other just completed Freshman year and is matriculated for the Fall as she works toward her Associates Degree, planning to qualify for transfer to a four year college to gain a Bachelors. Both are working while attending college.
- Annually approximately 25% of our parents enter our Emergency Shelter Program without a High School diploma. One of the first programmatic goals in their case planning is to earn a GED, Grade Equivalency Diploma. IHNSC provides free tutoring, pays all fees, supplies study materials and transports clients in order to achieve this vital goal. Four clients have succeeded and one more has benefitted from free tutoring and supplies to initiate the process.
The journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency is always a beginning and a daunting challenge. For some of our clients, it involves the frustration of losing the independence that they had and becoming homelessness due to natural disaster. Starting over from square one takes tremendous resilience and determination and our clients demonstrate the results.
- One mother of 2 children, one with special needs became homeless due to a fire in her apartment. She had a work history of 5 years. All of her possessions were lost in the fire and she lost her means of transportation when her vehicle could not be repaired. She secured full-time employment and met the many appointments of a special needs child while relying on walking, car pools and public transportation (scarce commodity in Somerset County). She demonstrated that she was able to maintain a vehicle and we were able to give her a car. The car was donated by an IHNSC supporting family and another gracious IHNSC supporter evaluated and performed maintenance at no charge. The family is in their own apartment, Mom has received an increase at work and her 9 year old special needs son can now access appropriate after school programs.
- Another IHNSC mother who had also been in an apartment with a young daughter lost everything as a result of flooding. On her own since she was a teenager, this mother had been proud of what she had accomplished to make a life for herself and her daughter, ended up losing her car and her employment as well as her home. Goal by goal Mom gained employment, passed the civil service exam, graduated from the police academy and is now pursuing the career she had always wanted as a corrections officer. Her journey is a perfect example of utilizing our continuum of care. The family started in the Emergency Shelter Program, pursued her professional training while in our transitional house and has been supported by our Phase 2 Program. Her daughter has just completed first grade, has benefitted from dance lessons and summer camp scholarships, again through our amazing support network and has now incorporated Girl Scouts and t-ball. Mom is now a speaking guest for IHNSC in the community.
The backgrounds that our clients come to us from frequently include major health issues, obstacles to attaining and maintaining independence. Addressing these needs has to be a main component of case planning or the journey out of homelessness is stalled. Again, our network of support combines with professional case management to gain needed treatment.
- One of our mothers came to us with the additional burden of injuries that she sustained as a child when she was struck by a vehicle. As a result of the accident, her leg had been amputated and she had not received a prosthesis. She showed amazing determination and perseverance in caring for her two little girls on crutches. She also exhibited some cognitive deficits that made an evaluation for head trauma appropriate. Both short and long term case plan goals needed to prioritize this client’s health needs.Today this client is participating in a supported employment program as a result of her head trauma evaluation. IHNSC has identified a foundation to assist with remaining costs of acquiring her prosthesis and is overseeing the request for funding. This client is now preparing for a future where she will be able to maintain independence with a positive quality of life for herself and her girls.
- A high percentage of our parents have become homeless by fleeing domestic violence. One of our mothers who had been a long term victim of physical abuse had lost multiple teeth and the abuse had weakened her remaining teeth. First, while she was in our Emergency Shelter Program, we found a pro bono dentist who was able to arrange for a bridge to replace front teeth that were missing. The client found employment and displayed a new outlook on persevering to independence. In our Transitional Support Program component, the client’s remaining teeth and gums deteriorated making the bridge ineffective and she now lost almost all teeth. This became a major impediment to employment as well as a significant health issue as speech, eating and emotional well-being became affected. Again, individualized case planning and management and our amazing network of supporters prevented a relapse into homelessness: where working through an overtaxed prosthodontic free clinic system was taking endless months, months with this parent now unemployed, we were able to secure the generous pro bono donation of a local specialist who completely replaced the teeth quickly. This mom is now actively applying for employment which is an attainable goal again.
Help Us Help Struggling Families Become Self Sufficient
Please help the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Somerset County NJ continue to give hope to homeless families in Somerset County. Your financial donation, supplies, volunteer your time or other convenient options can make a meaningful impact in the lives of the less fortunate. For more information, contact our office at (908) 704-1920.