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For Maria, a mother of two, you gave hope and stability.

As the second oldest in her family, Maria has always taken on the role of caregiver. She never shied away from hard work. Her life hasn’t been without its hardships. Throughout her childhood, her mother battled a substance use disorder. At the age of 12, Maria was put into foster care, where she remained until she aged out at 18. By that time, she was a mother herself. Seeking the stability and independence she so desperately wanted for her and her daughter, Maria moved to live with her older brother and his family. She hoped it would be a fresh start for them both. But, her younger siblings were at home far away, and Maria eventually moved back to her hometown.

“I always took care of my brothers and sisters. It hurt me to be separated from them.”

For the next 18 months, Maria lived at home until she gained custody of her younger brother. She worked every day to help him get his life back on track.

“It was such a blessing. It meant so much to me and my family to have our own place. It relieved a lot of stress. I was able to get a job and I started going to school to get my GED.”

Even though she was home, work becoming increasingly difficult to find, Maria eventually moved back to live with her older brother.

This wasn’t easier either. Unfortunately, with his growing family, their small two bedroom apartment became too crowded.

“My daughter and I both slept on the couch. I had to do something.”

She moved with her daughter into a women’s shelter. Here she was connected to resources; such as the family services program at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana. This program helps families experiencing housing crisis move into their own stable housing. More than that, it gave Maria the tools and guidance she needed to rebuild her life. For Maria, it was life-changing. “It was the first time I felt true relief. It was a tiny apartment, but I loved it.”

Not much later, Maria moved into permanent supportive housing where she lived for the next seven years. 

“It was such a blessing. It meant so much to me and my family to have our own place. It relieved a lot of stress. I was able to get a job and I started going to school to get my GED.”

For Maria who, even as a child always had to take care of herself and those around her, finally had someone in her corner to help her. “I learned people are put into your life for a reason. I wasn’t confident because I didn’t have my GED, but my case worker inspired me, even if she didn’t know it. She was my age and I saw everything she had accomplished. It pushed me to want to do the same.”

With the support of her caseworker, Maria found not one, but two jobs, which she still maintains. Her next goal is to get her GED. “My motivation are my children. I never want them to go through what I went through. I push them to keep up with school and achieve their goals.”

Maria’s work is paying off. Her daughter is graduating high school soon and enlisting in the National Guard.

Though Maria’s story is far from over, she knows she’s where she is supposed to be. 

“If I did not make the decision to ask for help I don’t know where I would be. I get down on myself sometimes. I wish I was a lot farther than I am, but I thank God every day for where I’m at.”

You can help more families, like Maria’s, find housing and the hope they need to thrive. 

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