Home with Friends update from Director Lora Wooster
This summer, we saw both sides of the struggle our families face finding stability in their lives and their housing.
The power of perseverance and friendship: Eileen graduated in June!
Our North Street Church Friendship Team was thrilled to celebrate Eileen’s* graduation from high school in June. Once again, she demonstrated just how determined and ‘wicked smaht’ she is. Her story is one of perseverance—and the power of friendship.
After realizing last September that she wasn’t going to find a better Certified Nursing Assistant job without a high school diploma, Eileen decided to go to night classes through Brockton Public Schools. For the entire school year, she devoted 3½ hours, 4 nights a week, to her classes. Then she added more time studying for her MCAS exams. And all of this in addition to raising her 3 kids and working full-time!
During that time, one member of her Friendship Team also devoted many hours tutoring her. This helped Eileen improve her English skills–and her self-confidence. As result, she decided to apply for a more responsible position at her work – and she got it!
Eileen has been with the program almost 2 years now, and has:
- learned how to budget her money,
- worked on raising her credit score,
- purchased a reliable car,
- received her high school diploma, and
- successfully applied for a series of better paying jobs.
She is now hoping to go to school next year to become an LPN.
While her Friendship Team’s official involvement with Eileen and her family will end soon, several of them will continue to maintain ties with her. I, as her case manager, will continue to give her support, encouragement, and resource referrals.
*Eileen’s actual name has been changed to respect her privacy
On a sadder note: Not all families succeed
In contrast to Eileen’s successful moves toward self-reliance, our newest Family Partners are no longer with the program. After many crises and struggles, including the father’s job loss and fall from sobriety, the situation became overwhelming for the mother. And despite their Friendship Team’s offers of support in many ways, she temporarily cut off all contact with us. She has since moved out of state, hoping to start over.
Of course we were discouraged, sad, and disappointed that we could not do more. But we were not defeated!
The experience reminded us how difficult and complex family dynamics can be. We were also reminded that loving people with all that we have doesn’t always work. Sometimes – despite all of our best efforts – we simply can’t “fix” people. We can’t change their situation, motivate them to view their problems differently, or convince them they CAN do this!
What we CAN do is love them unconditionally, with the same love that God gives us…. Laugh with them, cry with them, encourage them, and hold them accountable. Then, if they choose to move on, bless them and pray for them, trusting that God will continue to call their names and be at work in their lives through the hands and feet and words of others.
And we will use our experiences with each family to better serve the next family!
To that end, I wanted to thank you for your ongoing support and remind you of the many ways that you can continue to help Home with Friends. For example:
- Pray for us as we work with our families, including the team from Highrock Church in Quincy who welcomed evacuees from Puerto Rico and assisted them in adjusting to Massachusetts.
- Think about starting a Friendship Team from your church. Contact me, and I’ll let you know how we can help you do that.
- Refer a family that you know to us, who is struggling with homelessness, but is ready to make some changes in their lives, with the support we can offer.
- Plan a ‘baby shower’ for our Baby Bundles ministry, which gifts new moms with much of what they need for their newborn. Again, contact me if you have an interest.
- Support us financially. We are a program of Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore, but our program is not a part of their contract with the state to provide shelter. We estimate that the 2- year program for each family costs $29,000. Our donation address is below.
Please note: All donations are tax-deductible and should be designated for Home with Friends. If you can let me know you are sending a gift, that will help us track it.
Thank you too for your words of encouragement. It gives us strength to know that people from throughout the South Shore and from 30+ congregations are walking with us in this ministry!
As always, please let us know if you want to continue to receive our information and updates, or if you wish to be removed from this mailing list.
Only by His grace,
Rev. Lora Wooster, MA, LSW