I’ll never forget the day that I realized I was literally homeless.

 

I remember watching the sun dip below the horizon and I was filled with dread. My sister had just informed me that I couldn’t return to her house where I’d been sleeping for several months. I sat on a bus bench with my sleeping infant at my side and scrolled through the contacts there. I could barely hold back tears as I realized I had nowhere to go.

 

We spent that night on the streets and that was absolutely my rock bottom. I never wanted to subject my boy to that again. After a two-week stint in a voucher motel I was offered a spot at Sacred Heart House of Denver. I didn’t know it then, but they would be my saving grace.

 

At the voucher motel the workers treated us like we weren’t worth the gum on the bottom of their shoes. It was shameful and embarrassing. Garrett, Janet and the volunteers at Sacred Heart saw me for who I was working to be. They didn’t tell me to drop-out of college like some shelters had.

 

They praised me for being a homeless single mom working a full-time job and trying to finish school. They allowed me to continue working even though I got off of work well after curfew. When I did return they allowed me to sit downstairs and do homework into the early morning hours.

 

They lifted me up in a way that no one ever has and during a time where I felt that my world was shattering; they grounded me.

 

After my time in their shelter they offered me two years of transitional housing. Because of that I was able to return to school full-time. Instead of the six years it would have taken to finish my degree going part time, I finished in three. I was able to take part in clubs and internships that I just wouldn’t have been able to without stable housing. I attribute landing an internship at The Denver Post to the valuable experience I received being Editor-In-Chief of my campus paper. I now have my Bachelor’s in Journalism and I work as a news fellow with Colorado Public Radio.

 

However, Sacred Heart House provides much more than housing. They gave me the tools to make a budget and spending plan and most importantly held me accountable for it. They helped me create good habits financially. I was able to pay down debts because they could provide me with affordable rent. When I came to Sacred Heart House my credit score was a 500. It is now a 746. I have $18,000 in savings and I plan to buy a home within the next year.

I think most importantly Sacred Heart House pushed me to always put family first and gave me the resources to be the best mom I can be for my son. They pushed me to make personal and family goals not just financial.

 

I tell you all this because I am beating the statistics. I am defying odds and making great things happen. I am tangible proof that following the program and working hard can pay off with a program like what Sacred Heart offers. Without them my life’s path would be very different.

 

A void would exist without Sacred Heart so I implore you to continue funding this essential program for women like myself.

Joella Baumann, former resident, Sacred Heart House of Denver