John and Gina were referred to us by Community Action Marin. John was orphaned at nine years old; Gina has dealt with her disability for many years. They met and married in 2011. Gina was a stay-at-home mom for much of their married life. Unfortunately, for the last five years they have been unemployed and homeless due to serious health issues. Gina is especially proud that her hubby is interested in recycling and supplements their income with this activity. John, a former rodeo cowboy and football player, also loves tinkering with his bike. The couple are avid community activists who work hard to encourage their former homeless friends to move forward in finding a safe place of their own, too.
When we called John and Gina to let them know it was time to return to their place, John shouted to Gina - “Let’s go Gina! Our new home is ready!” When they arrived, Gina noticed the artwork first. “Look, John - a fish on a bicycle!” she said. They peeked into the serene bedroom and were especially drawn to the beautiful dresser. We left them settled on their “new” sofa; they were so happy with their colorful, comfy home.
Carolina lives in home 2 with her three children (sons 10 and 8 months; daughter, age 2). For nine years they lived in one room of an apartment, along with her husband, sharing a bathroom and kitchen with other families. The marital relationship turned into domestic violence and Carolina separated from her husband. With no credit rating of her own, she was unable to find housing. What's more, while being pregnant and eventually giving birth, her ability to work cleaning homes and earn an income was drastically reduced. Gratefully, North Marin Community Services stepped in to help her. She was able to find an apartment for the family, with her husband contributing partially to the rent. As difficult as it is with an eight-month-old and two-year-old, she is managing to work three days a week and is intent on building up to five or more as soon as possible. She told us that she is thrilled for the family to finally have a space of their own where the children can play and do school projects.
Carolina was overwhelmed with tears when she walked in and saw the transformation! The older kids were beaming at the sight of their lovely new home. And, as always, we volunteers were rewarded by seeing the family so happy and hopeful about their future. “Your lives will be blessed because of what you have done for us,” Carolina said as we were leaving.
Lilibeth arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines as a bride of an American. They had three daughters together but eventually divorced. Lilibeth moved to live with her mother in San Francisco over ten years ago. She worked as a cashier at several convenience stores and took classes at City College. She was eventually able to afford her own place but then serious health issues overcame her, and in 2018 she was evicted from her last apartment. At 55, she was homeless, living on the streets in San Francisco's Tenderloin until she got her current apartment in Marin this summer. She says the hardest part of there former life was waking up under her cardboard boxes every morning to find her few belongings missing. She says she is taking medications now that help her and is glad to have a case worker checking in with her. She is so grateful to have a roof, instead of cardboard, over her head and is looking forward to getting to know this side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Lillibeth was referred to us by Marin Housing Authority's Odyssey Program
Lillibeth was wowed by the transformation of her apartment. (She only had a borrowed bed when she moved into it.) "It was all so beautiful... and nicely arranged. I didn't even want to sleep on my new bed and mattress the first night. It's nice to have my own balcony looking out on the hills, too."
The fourth apartment is home to Katherine and her three children. A few years ago, the four of them had exactly two minutes to leave their home due to an explosive domestic violence situation. They each grabbed what they could stuff into a single bag and left. They couch surfed, lived in their car, and stayed in small motels until they were able to get temporary housing through Homeward Bound, who referred them to Welcoming Home. Katherine and her two boys, aged 13 and 9, now have a lovely place to call home. Katherine's daughter is now in college. Katherine used to work in Holistic / Integrative Medicine, specializing in patient care for both adults and children. She had to leave her job so that she could stay home to support the boys’ education during the pandemic. Now she is continuing her education in kinesiology and sports nutrition; her goal is to assist athletes with their performance and recovery.
Katherine and her boys were thrilled when they walked into their newly furnished home. The boys were excited to find their personalized rooms and totally blown away with brand new bikes—a surprise from a very generous donor. "It's such a relief to have a lovely, cozy home all of our own," Katherine said. She went giddily from room to room, repeating how perfect it all was. Later that evening, she sent us a message “Everything is so beautiful! Thank you and the team for making dreams come true!”