Valerie was referred to us by Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa. Like so many, Valerie was one paycheck away from being homeless. Until several months ago she was able to keep up with rent and bills with pay from her longtime job at Walmart. Then, unfortunately, she got laid off.
When her money ran out, she slept in a truck for a week, lived in a tent for three days, and in a shelter for six months. Her dog, Cito (named after a Santana song), has been her companion through these hard times.
Valerie loves her new apartment where it's dry, safe, and nature abounds. She enjoys watching monarch butterflies, wild turkeys, and squirrels around the grounds. Her favorite hobby is making jewelry and dream catchers that she hopes to sell.
When Valerie entered her newly furnished home she said, “I’m going to cry.” And then she did.
In each room she commented on the lovely décor— the living room was cozy, the eating area pretty, the toaster oven so useful. In the bedroom she loved the secretary desk and elegant dresser topped by unique elephant base lamp.
Her favorite room was the bathroom. When we first met her, she showed us a sunflower painting her granddaughter made for her. We found the perfect sunflower ensemble to complement it. “Oh, isn’t that fun!”
Her dog, Cito, checked out the new furniture and will probably claim the big, comfy armchair as his own.
She later sent us this message… “You lady’s rock! I’m ecstatic about my beautiful new home. Again. Thank you."
Mandy, also referred by Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, was homeless for five years. She lived out of an RV with her boyfriend until it was towed away. They found an abandoned van to live out of after that. During that time, her now teen-aged son lived with a relative.
Mandy has always worked two to three jobs and currently works with a company providing in-home care for people with special needs. James, with Catholic Charities, went to bat for her, helping her to find an apartment.
She was able to get housing and finally has a place to call home again, where her son can now live with her and get into a normal routine with school and other activities.
Upon seeing her transformed home, Melody exclaimed "Is this ours? Sweet! Wow, I'm beyond thrilled. You ladies did such a kick-ass job in here!"
As she walked through the rooms she noted the various donated items: "I love the paintings! ....You'll probably catch me sleeping on this couch...I like this dresser; so much better.... How awesome! (the bedroom)...I love it all. It feels like a real home."
"There's no amount of thank you's I can give to show how grateful I am," she went on, "You made our house an actual home. Thank you, Thank you!!"
The hand-made desk from “Seniors 4 Students” went over very well with the teen it was built for.
Regina, referred by Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, has had various careers in her life, including loan officer and paralegal. She was also an advocate for disabled children and helped several school districts receive extra government funding for disabled children.
After she married and had children, she became a stay-at-home mom. She left that relationship due to domestic violence and plummeted into poverty. She moved several times and in and out of shelters due to her disability and health. Eventually, she moved to a community that helped her get back on her feet.
Regina is very excited to be in a place for the disabled elderly and looking forward to being an advocate again for the disabled. She said she always dreamed of having her own nonprofit and this will give her a chance to heal and help others less fortunate, and to give back to the community that helped her get out of poverty.
As Regina was wheeled up to her new apartment, she was already tearing up. She was so excited to see her new furnishings.
As she entered the living room, she couldn't believe the transformation. She was as giddy as a schoolgirl on her first day of school.
We wheeled her throughout the apartment, stopping at each room to see the changes and talk about what we had done. She really enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of all the pieces from the furniture to the art.
When we were leaving, she again started to cry and asked to hug us. She felt that her healing was really starting to happen.
Robert, referred by Catholic Charities, was born in Santa Rosa. He has lived there all his life and loves it, although things haven’t always gone smoothly. He worked in construction, which took its toll on his body.
He has a daughter and grandchildren but doesn’t see them often. He had been living with his brother, who sadly passed away very recently, so Robert had to move out of the apartment. Not long ago he was sleeping outside behind a church in the wind and rain.
Robert became very involved with his church, driving families to and from services, delivering food to housebound elderly people; he feels very grateful to be in a position where he is able to do this. He feels his purpose in life is to help people find their faith.
Although on disability, Robert is in good spirits. He is so thankful to have this beautiful new apartment and is very humbled that the community would reach out and create such a warm and lovely home for him.
Though a man of few words, Robert showed his appreciation repeating "WOW"as he saw all the changes.
Robert is in poor health; his feet give him tremendous pain. Providing him a comfortable place to sit will be such a gift for him.