It’s inspiring when someone is really on the other side of a very difficult time in their life. They speak about that dark period, without embarrassment, within the much rosier context of today.
That’s Shoshanna. As she tells it, she spent eight hours wandering the streets trying to decide whether to follow up on a referral to Fred Victor Women’s Hostel on Lombard Street. She was afraid. Other women had told her she might want to keep a knife close at hand if she planned on using a shelter.
How wrong they proved to be.
Having spent five years caring for her elderly, ill father, she’d exhausted her resources. During that first year of caregiving, she tried juggling her busy job as a senior advertising copywriter/editor and her dad’s care, but she’d constantly get phone calls at work from her dad’s residence asking for help.
Many times, she tried hiring someone to take care of him so she could continue working, but that never worked out for long. She couldn’t take care of him and work at the same time; she had to choose. She quit her job, gave up her apartment, put her stuff in storage, and moved in with him.
When her father died, the lease on his apartment was tied to being a senior so Shoshanna was given a couple of days and asked to leave. After moving around for many months, she realized the only way she would get the help she needed was at a shelter.
In spring 2015, Shoshanna went to Fred Victor Women’s Hostel. She says, “From the minute I walked in, I knew it was going to be ok. And now, I wish I’d gone four months earlier. At the front desk of the Hostel, a really sharp staff member named Christine pegged me immediately. She said, ‘I know where you belong…Women’s Transition to Housing.’”
Shoshanna is one of the women who enter an emergency shelter and, if helped to move on swiftly, will not become another sad statistic on the city’s database of women who are chronically homeless. Shoshanna has ambition, skills, terrific self-knowledge, and determination. Having struggled with depression in the past, she says, “I am mentally in a good spot, physically in a good spot.” She spent only six weeks in Fred Victor Women’s Hostel and then moved to Women’s Transition to Housing.
She’s optimistic. “Everything’s here for me. I want to use this year wisely. Suddenly you have access to all these amazing resources. And people who are really good at their jobs…kind, empathetic people.” She continues, “Fred Victor has been instrumental in opening my eyes to what’s available. I think I’m really lucky because I got on the track of Fred Victor, a good track, and every step is solid, leading to the finish line: permanent housing.” Shoshanna is now focused on finding a good opportunity in her field. But no more huge agencies; she’s hoping instead for something smaller and quieter, ideally in the non-profit sector.