Spencer lives in Home 1; he was referred to us by Marin Housing Authority. Spencer is in his late 40's and found his way from his hometown in Michigan to Marin via China. He was in the Army for over 10 years as a medic and earned a nursing license afterward.
Spencer married while in China and now has an 11-year-old daughter. His marriage broke apart in China and he became homeless. He had a hard time getting a passport to re-enter the U.S. and has been living in a shelter for the last eight months.
In Michigan, he was an auto mechanic and in China he taught English as a second language.
Spencer finally has a one-bedroom apartment and looks forward to getting a job so he can bring his daughter to the US for visits now that he has a home for her to come to. For the first time in a long time he's feeling optimistic about the future.
Spencer was delighted when he entered the apartment. He walked all around examining every piece of furniture and concluded:
"I love it. You know, I was a nurse earlier in my life and loved that job because you could see the change you made in people's lives. Well, Welcoming Home does the same; you change people's lives. Thank you. I especially like that big chair and ottoman, my laptop desk, and my bed. It's the best bed I have ever had."
A couple of days later, Spencer's case manager wrote to us ... “Just wanted to send a thank you email for Spencer's apartment. I saw it today and was pleasantly surprised to see it so nicely furnished. Spencer was in the best mood I’ve seen him in a long time, even smiling at times (I haven’t ever seen him smile before!). He commented on how he really likes how “blue” his bedroom is and how it’s one of his favorite colors.
"Thank you for all that you do!!!”
Ava lives in Home 2 and was referred to us by Homeward Bound of Marin. She was born in Santa Rosa and has lived in the Bay Area all her life. She's been out on her own since the age of 16, moving from one place to another.
Ava has a 10-year-old son and is very determined to make a good life for him. After losing their home twice to fires, it hasn’t been easy for them; they've spent a lot of time in homeless shelters. Ava says it is so hard to hold down a job with no permanent address and no one to depend on for child care.
It was very difficult for her to talk about the circumstances of the break up of her marriage, but it was clear that this apartment is a huge step forward in creating security and stability for herself and her son. They didn't have much and had been sleeping on the floor and eating off of paper plates.
Her determination is admirable and she is very excited to begin classes in Nursing School next month.
All Ava could say when she opened the door and saw her new home was "Look! Look! Look!"
Since her 10 yr old son wasn't back from a soccer game yet, she excitedly showed him everything she was seeing on her phone, via Facetime. Together, they exclaimed delightedly over everything. "We have a tv! We have a dining table! We have a microwave! We have books!"
Ava was totally overcome by every detail, from her new desk, to her new closet organizers, and outside to the fun barbecue area that had been set up as a surprise for the family.
There wasn't a dry eye in the place as she gratefully hugged all the volunteers. "Bless you all" she smiled through the tears.
Derrick lives in Home 3; like Spencer in Home 1 above, he was also referred to us by Marin Housing Authority.
Derrick was honorably discharged from the military over 25 years ago. He moved to the Bay Area and spent the last 20 years living on the streets. He had experience working in construction and did occasional odd jobs but then developed severe arthritis so he was unable to continue that type of work. He recently accepted assistance and spent the last couple months in a group home.
Derrick is so thrilled to have his own apartment. He hopes to get help for his arthritis and looks forward to finding work as a handyman.
Usually a man of a few words, Derrick was quite flabbergasted. He walked into each room saying “Wow!”, and “Is this my home? it’s beautiful!”.
He thanked us with such sincerity, and gratitude. We hope he'll be able to enjoy bike rides on his 'new" bike — and that he'll find comfort and security to heal in his home.
Kaitlyn is a California native, born in Santa Rosa. She grew up in Marin.
She was referred to us by Gilead House, where she spent the last year with her four daughters, ages 3, 6, 9 and 17. Prior to that, she and her young family lived with several different family members off and on.
She works as a healthcare assistant, specializing in senior care, a career she now hopes to resume since she has a stable home. With a new baby on the way they are all excited to move into an apartment of their own and start a new life.
Upon entering their newly decorated home, all were so excited—especially the oldest daughter who exclaimed "I love all the color!" followed by "I love the aesthetic!" (a future designer, perhaps?) And the younger ones ran to sit or lay on the many new pieces throughout the apartment, testing them out.
Kaitlyn seemed at a loss for words. "From the shelter to this," she said quietly.