I thought, “Wow, anyone can end up in this situation.”
On the day she signed the lease for her new apartment, we sat down for a conversation with Joan, a woman who lived at Calvary as part of our transitional housing program. She talked about her life prior to coming to Calvary, and her experience while living at Calvary. At Calvary, Joan worked toward addressing the reasons she became homeless, and worked hard on securing her own apartment with the help of her case manager and other program staff.
Prior to coming to Calvary, Joan was scared of becoming homeless, and had made assumptions about the types of women who were homeless. When Joan found herself in a new city with nowhere stable to live, she turned to Calvary with a certain level of skepticism.
Below, in her own words, Joan shares the ways she was empowered to build a strong future for herself, and the way her time at Calvary opened her eyes to the lives of other women who are experiencing homelessness.
“I moved to DC from out of state. I was in a domestic violence situation and my sister asked me to come here and start anew. She had just moved into an apartment and we would share expenses. I thought that was great. I did not realize that my sister was on drugs, and there were mood swings. She became emotionally and almost physically violent toward me. Long story short, she finally said, “You have to move, you have to get out. I’ll give you 30 days.”
So once she did that I ended up reaching out to shelters in DC. One said, “Joan, I know a place that may be able to help you. You come in and I will give them a call.” And they called Calvary.
I was very, very surprised, because I had preconceived notions about being homeless. I was always fearful of being homeless. When I first came to Calvary for a tour, I thought okay, it’s just nice because they’re just showing me around. But I realized that Calvary is consistent. This place is consistent as far as the cleanliness, this place is consistent as far as programs, and groups, and just wanting us to better ourselves. Calvary is a catalyst in that.
While at Calvary I was able to get my social security in order, and my driver’s license, and all these different things that I needed. Another thing: to be able to put money in savings while at Calvary is awesome. Today I am signing my lease and I have money that I had put aside, because I need first month’s rent and security deposit. So it was there for me, and that is awesome. Now, today, I am signing my lease for an apartment.
I also had preconceived notions of other women. I thought, you know, they were homeless out on the street – I didn’t have a good view of them. However, I met some beautiful women. Women just like me, or women even what I consider much better than me. And I thought, “Wow, anyone can end up in this situation.” But we have an organization like Calvary that embraces us, and never make us feel put down or “less than”. If anything, I was encouraged to be more, to be better.
This has been a really, really hard experience, but it’s been a good experience. Sometimes I would buckle against the program because, you know, I had to be in certain groups. But you can learn from anything or anybody if you just open yourself up to it. Some of the classes and activities that I didn’t want to be in actually became a blessing to me. So I am thankful for that.
I am grateful because I had a safe place to be, a clean place, a nice place. This is the place that I would want anyone who is in a situation like me to come. I would say “Calvary is a safe place; Calvary is a good place. It’s a place where you can get yourself together and move on.”
I was treated with kindness from everybody. Like I said, Calvary is consistent. And I became a better a person just from being here. I’m excited for what’s coming next.”