Marsha moved into The Light House with her 16 month old daughter and twelve year old son.
She had been living with her mother while raising her son, and soon after having her daughter almost two years ago, her mother passed away, the father of her daughter developed an aggressive form of cancer, and she lost her job that she had been working at for 12 years. Within this short amount of time her entire support system was no longer there for her. Her mother was gone, her significant other was in the hospital suffering from cancer, and she no longer had employment. This left Marsha feeling very alone and scrambling for options on where to live and how to support herself. She didn’t have any close family, and very few friends in the area.
With no home, no income, no access to childcare, and no technology to apply for jobs she felt the strain of what seemed like an impossible situation. Her first step was to try and rent the living room space of two acquaintances who had many children and family members already living in their home. This was incredibly difficult and she soon had to leave after her roommates became increasingly reckless and were having serious legal problems of their own. She then moved in and out of homeless shelters in Maryland but said that “they were just places to sleep.” Her two kids, especially her son had a very hard time living in these environments. “We didn’t really accomplish anything, there was no help with moving forward. We were just there. My son had no one to talk to and the environments weren’t healthy for kids.”
Desperately trying to find a better life for her family, Marsha came to The Light House.
“Then I came here and almost as soon as I walked through the door I was getting help to take steps towards receiving health and support benefits, doing jobs searches, getting the ball rolling on transitional housing, and even pursuing my dream of going back to school.”
Marsha’s case manager encouraged her to go back to school. She helped her research different programs and degree options, apply for Anne Arundel Community College and for grants and scholarships. Thanks to this support she was able to receive full funding for her degree program. Marsha began attending Anne Arundel Community College at the end of June 2017 to earn a two year Business Management Associate degree. She has been set up with a laptop and all her books, and says that she has been dreaming of going back to school for business for many years and is incredibly proud and excited.
Having worked at a large grocery store for 12 years, she has a lot of business management experience already. “I did everything that managers did, but because of my lack of education I wasn’t able to move up in the ranks. It’s hard getting an education with young kids…It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m grateful that I finally have a chance to do it.”
The Light House has also helped her son and daughter. “The experience I got here has really helped me a lot, but also especially my kids, their happy and they have really opened up. I think they were feeling like outcast before we moved here, they were depressed…but now they’re comfortable and happy.”
Her son is signed up for summer camp and she says that “he absolutely loves it here, he gets to come to the shelter after camp or school and people smile at him, joke with him and have positive interactions. He really needs activities and consistency, and he gets that here.” She says that the few years of not having a place to call home was hard on him in school too. He switched schools multiple times, and stopped trying to make friends and generally shut down emotionally. Since moving into The Light House she says that he has opened up, made friends at the shelter and at school. “He loves school, when we were moving around his grades went down and it really upset him, but since moving into The Light House they’ve gone right back up! He’s a straight A student and on the honor roll again!”
Like most mother’s Marsha is working hard first and foremost to make a good life for her children. “The way to my heart is through my kids, everyone here is so nice to them, they make us feel like we’re home. The Resident Assistants especially are good with my son. They joke and talk with him and it makes him feel like he belongs. Sarosh (a Light House Resident Assistant) jokes around with him and makes him smile a lot. I think Sarosh really saw how depressed and shy my son was when we first moved here, and he really went out of his way to make him feel welcome and to get him to talk. Everyone really does too…they just make us feel welcome.”
Her case manager is at the final stage of getting her and her family into transitional housing and Marsha can’t wait to start her new career path after graduating with her Associate degree. The Light House gave her all the resources she needed to find a better path and she believes now that “I’m not just moving on now…I’m moving forward.”