Looking at this beautiful family portrait, you would have no idea that just a few short years ago this young mother was so desperate that she would attempt to take her own life. You would also have no idea of the part you played in helping her reach a better place, a place where she can look in a mirror and be proud to say, “I’m Samantha. I am strong and I am in control of my life!”
In many ways, Samantha, or Sam as she’s called, was dealt a bad hand. She lost her mother at a young age and was placed in the foster system. As she explains, “growing up, I’d seen wrong and very little right.” Her challenges continued as an adult with the death of her first-born son and a domestic relationship so abusive that the only escape she could see was through an overdose of pills.
Thankfully, Sam survived, but waking up in the hospital only brought new horrors. Her children had been placed in the same foster care system that caused her so much pain as a child. She was inconsolable. She was also homeless and by May, 2019 Sam was living in her car. But, when Sam learned that if she went to a homeless shelter, she had a good shot at being reunited with her children, she jumped at the chance.
One month later, Sam, Aaleena and Yavier were back together again. Unfortunately, Sam also knew the clock was ticking. She could only stay at the shelter for 90 days and she was fearful about how she was going to be able to provide for her children and secure an apartment with only a part-time job. She didn’t know it then, but because of YOUR support for Open Sky, Sam’s luck was about to change.
At the shelter, Sam became connected with Open Sky’s South County Housing Assistance Program (SCHAP). SCHAP is a permanent supportive housing program that provides housing subsidies and case management services. Sam and her case manager Ashley instantly clicked. Over time, it became a mutual admiration society, with Ashley describing Sam as the very picture of resilience and someone who can “handle anything that comes her way.” In return, Sam explains that in meeting Ashley, “for the first time in my life I had someone in my corner, and I started believing in myself, too.”
SCHAP staff searched tirelessly to find an apartment that would work for the family and used their creativity to come up with a quick solution. Once an apartment was found, they handled all of the landlord negotiations. All Sam and her family had to do was move into their new home!
But the services you support didn’t stop there. Once Sam’s family had settled in, it was time to plan for the future. Program staff helped Sam explore new career opportunities. Her job interview for a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) position at a local nursing home was so successful, the director instead offered her a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) position with paid classes and training!
It’s been a year and a half since Sam connected with Open Sky. She’s still in her apartment, accepted the job opportunity she was offered and is thriving. Our prediction for the beautiful family you see in the portrait is a very, very bright future.
I am so proud of the work that’s being done by the dedicated and caring staff at SCHAP and the rest of Open Sky’s homeless services programs. Their tasks became even more important over the last few months as our communities faced an unprecedented health crisis – a crisis that made finding homes for families like Sam’s even more important. Boy, did they ever step up to the challenge.
In the past year, our homeless services programs have served 140 families and individuals and have already found homes for more than 100! These outcomes are inspiring and possibly lifesaving and they couldn’t have happened without community support. Your donations do, truly, make a difference.
None of us know what the next months will bring. But, with your help, we can be certain that Open Sky will be there to help families like Sam’s navigate life’s challenges. Please consider making a donation today to ensure their tomorrows.
You can make a contribution using the enclosed envelope or on the Open Sky website at www.openskycs.org. By the way, you can increase your impact by setting up a monthly donation that can be canceled at any time. But, whatever you choose to donate, know that Sam, Aaleena, Yavier and I are so very grateful for your generosity. Stay well, stay safe.
Chair, Board of Directors
Open Sky Community Services