Pride. That’s what kept Brad from seeking help for his family when they were struggling. And it was after a night of sleeping in the car that he knew there had to be something else out there to get them through this rough patch. “It was pride. I’ve never been in a situation where I needed help like this. Never.”
Brad and Renee were in a dangerous situation and knew they needed to leave their living arrangement immediately. Brad said, “As a man, I had to make a decision to get Renee and my son out of that situation.” They packed up the car and left. Even though it was necessary to leave, they didn’t have anywhere to go. The couple began living in hotels until one night there was a big event and all of the hotels up and down I-35 tripled in price. Renee broke down when thinking about homelessness becoming a reality, “I couldn’t risk my son.” She said, “We had $191, but the rooms were $265. I called every single person I knew for a place to stay and the answer was no.” They slept in their car that night. That was the last straw. The next day Renee said, “I don’t care, I’m going. I need to see where we can get help. If not, my son is going to end up in CPS.”
Renee was talking about The Caring Place. She had seen it when driving by, but Brad wasn’t sure it was for them. Renee was desperate. Her fear of becoming homeless with her child was strong and she convinced Brad to take that step with her. She said, “We just needed that little push.” Brad was reluctant but knew living in the car wasn’t the path he wanted for his family. He recently started a new job in Georgetown and wanted to make it on his own, but to gain adequate shelter for their family immediately, they needed help.
Initially, Brad and Renee asked The Caring Place for a hotel room, but that would only get them through another night, so it was not a long-term solution and not one The Caring Place could help with without a plan in place. Brad and Renee secured clothing, hygiene kits, food and a gas voucher from The Caring Place, but they needed a plan to secure permanent housing. Brad’s job was still new and Renee wasn’t working yet, so funds were limited to get an apartment.
In a surprising twist of events, while the couple was sitting in The Caring Place lobby, the mom of Brad’s kids called and invited their family to stay with her and her family in Georgetown until they found a place to live. She knew the situation Brad and Renee left, and knew they needed her help. This huge bit of generosity gave Brad and Renee the temporary residence they needed to fill out an apartment application nearby. Once they applied for housing, they could begin making longer-term goals with The Caring Place. Within two weeks, they had a plan and were approved to get an apartment. With The Caring Place’s help, a deposit was made and rent for the first month was paid. This was the safety net Brad and Renee needed to make a home for themselves. Stability was in view again. What did they do the moment they got the key to their new apartment? They drove themselves to The Caring Place to tell Xinia, their Case Manager and Sheryl, the Basic Needs Coordinator who ensured checks were sent to the apartment complex quickly. Brad and Renee beamed with gratitude. That’s what you see in the picture shared with this story, utter joy.
The joy was so real because every step of the way Brad didn’t think it would work out. He wasn’t being a pessimist, simply a realist with the cards that were dealt recently. Brad said, “I doubted. I felt we were getting our hopes up for nothing. I didn’t want to be living back in the car. I didn’t want to go back to a hotel.” Renee added, “Sheryl kept saying, ‘Don’t worry,’ but Brad just couldn’t believe it. He was stressed out, but I knew we needed to have some faith. That’s hard after the year we had.” Brad and Renee credited Sheryl with keeping their spirits up when the apartment wasn’t quite ready when it was supposed to be. It was a small inconvenience, but another one that left the couple feeling like something would fall through.
“We had to do the footwork,” Brad explained about the process of working with The Caring Place, “It isn’t The Caring Place taking care of everything without some work from us. We had to talk to people, fill out papers, make phone calls, and fill out applications. The Caring Place informed us about what to do to get certain resources, but we had to go do it and we financially contributed what we had.” Brad continued, “In order to better yourself and your situation, you have to put the work in. We needed the help, but we also wanted it. We wanted the big picture.” Brad and Renee said accountability and guidance from their Case Manager, Xinia, made a difference. Brad shared, “They never gave up on us. We didn’t have the headspace to deal with everything. They kept us positive.”
Now, both Brad and Renee have jobs, their son is enrolled in school and new goals that feel attainable are in the works. Brad and Renee regularly visit the Food Pantry to ensure they can make ends meet. They also stay in contact with their Case Manager through the Case Management program to let her know how they are doing. Renee loves coming to see Xinia, “She keeps me positive. She keeps me pushing. I’m accomplishing goals that I didn’t even know I could.” Xinia connected Brad and Renee with additional referrals for jobs, training and education that the couple is excited about.
Can you change people’s mindset when they think The Caring Place isn’t here for them? People often think The Caring Place is for someone else, someone with a different situation, or someone with a worse situation. Listening to Brad speak about his experience, it was clear The Caring Place experience wasn’t what he expected. The end goal for Brad and Renee is to be stable. They don’t want simple expenses to keep them from paying rent and they are almost there.
“The Caring Place changed my mind about asking for help. Everyone needs help at some point and this happened to be my point. It made everything better for me. It opened up so many doors. We got to know the people at The Caring Place too and they were excited with us when we got the keys to our apartment. It was pouring rain that day and we didn’t care. We had to come see the people here. We were very thankful…If you need the help go get it,” Brad ended with Renee interjecting, “It doesn’t make you less of a person.”