Maurice’s Story

Maurice’s Story

Maurice’s Story

Maurice was a real-estate agent and homeowner before the financial crisis. When the housing bubble burst, he lost both his job and home, and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. This incident was Maurice’s first episode of homelessness, and he initially sought shelter with friends and family. But, after being unable to get back on his feet with their assistance, he came to Carpenter’s Shelter.

Maurice’s first task was to find a new job, as Carpenter’s Shelter maintains a policy that all residents must be working or actively seeking employment. Working with his Case Manager and Education and Employment Coordinator, Maurice was able to secure a position with a car dealership. He began saving 70% of his income, as mandated by shelter policies.

After living in the shelter for a few months, Maurice felt he was ready to move back out into the community. Using Carpenter’s rental assistance program to supplement his saved income, he was able to rent an apartment. Carpenter’s paid a subsidized rent for him for three months, at which point he was able to afford housing on his own.

Once a client has moved into transitional or permanent housing, Carpenter’s Shelter continues to offer case management for a minimum of one year. Even after moving out of the shelter, Maurice was able to ‘shop’ our pantry for food, as well as access supportive services and attend monthly workshops. Carpenter’s is not allocated a budget for food. Our pantry is stocked solely by volunteers. Thanks to our dedicated staff and support from the community for these continued services, Carpenter’s boasts a 90% success rate for our shelter graduates.

Every year Carpenter’s awards scholarships to help clients further their education. Maurice applied and was awarded a scholarship from Carpenter’s Shelter to attend an educational seminar in Florida. The scholarship helped cover the costs of his travel and accommodation while in Florida. The workshop, sponsored by Allstate, focused on sales and financing, and upon completion Maurice received a special certification. This certification allowed him to obtain a promotion at the car dealership, and increased his monthly earnings from $1,200 to $4,000. He is now once again financially independent.

Carpenter’s is committed to helping clients seek and obtain resources that help them to further their education. Through working with his Case Manager and utilizing Carpenter’s scholarship program, Maurice was able to get back on his feet and back into the community. He was able to further his education, which helped him excel in his new career path. In the words of Ashley Speaks, Carpenter’s Education and Employment Coordinator, “Ending homelessness is not just housing someone. It is a multifaceted process with many connected pieces. Financial stability, consistent support, education and career progression were all a part of the process that led Maurice to self sufficiency. That process is central to the work we do here at Carpenter’s Shelter.”

*Names and likenesses have been changed for the protection of our clients

Meet Rose

Meet Rose

Rose is only 42 years old, but has gone through more in her life than most. She has never lived in one place for more than a year since she was child, has been in and out of foster care, shelters, transitional housing, and subsidized housing her entire life. Rose has never had stability, never had consistent support to help get her through.

As you can imagine growing up in such an unstable environment as a child led to wrong choices and a difficult time as an adult. She has been institutionalized for mental illness including bi-polar disorder, lost contact with her three daughters and eleven grandchildren, has no high school degree and faced criminal charges. Rose was lost, alone, and needed support – and lucky she found a home at Carpenter’s in 2013.

Many of our clients at Carpenter’s Shelter are just like Rose, they want to succeed, they want to learn, they want to achieve a better life – they just do not have the tools to do so. But that’s where Carpenter’s comes in. We give our clients the support and guidance to succeed and watch them grow into amazing and successful people.

Since being at Carpenter’s Rose has re-established her mental health services and has agreed to start the process of treatment once again. She has also addressed her debt and, with the help of Carpenter’s staff, is managing it and succeeding in paying it off thanks to her new full time job. She has taken financial literacy classes that have taught her how to better manage money, something most of our clients benefit from. She has also taken a lot of initiative in looking for housing, completing a transitional housing application her first week in the shelter. Transitional housing offers housing for clients in off-site apartments for up to 24 months, but unfortunately Rose did not qualify because of past criminal charges. However, Rose got back on her feet and pushed through, determined to work with her case manager to help her find another option. For now Rose will continue to live in the shelter where she has already saved over $2000 for her own place. With the help of Carpenter’s Housing Resource Coordinator, Rose plans on applying for an apartment owned by a non-profit in Fairfax, where hopefully she will be approved and live on her own. She is also working on re-establishing a relationship with her extended family, in hopes of regaining trust and stability in her life.

Since she first came to the shelter, she has made major strides in moving forward. Her case manager says, “Rose has quickly become one of most optimistic and joyful clients.” Ending the cycle of homelessness doesn’t happen overnight. At Carpenter’s Shelter, just like Rose we take it one day at a time, one individual at time.

Carpenter’s Shelter is a home for over 80 people, and with your help, provides shelter, guidance, and support.  Carpenter’s offers classes, assistance, and support through people’s difficult times, something impossible to do without your support and donations. Thanks to your support, we can help people like Rose make changes that will lead towards a path for a better life.

*Names and likenesses have been changed for the protection of our clients

Mary

Mary

Mary had been living on the streets for over 20 years before coming to Carpenter’s Shelter. She found shelter in a tunnel in DC during her last several years on the streets – dealing with no constant source of food or money, no support system, and no place to call home. She also struggled with severe depression and other mental health issues, but because she had been living on the streets, she never received treatment and was reluctant to do so. However, after several weeks of living in Carpenter’s shelter, she finally decided she wanted help and immediately began taking medication and seeing a therapist. Because of the social and medical support she received from friends and staff at the shelter she began feeling healthier and happier, and was able to find a full time job as a secretary. While at Carpenter’s Shelter clients are required to save 70% of their income, but Mary began saving over 80%, determined to create a new life for herself.

Mary did experience some setbacks while at the shelter, mainly because of her low credit score. She was constantly denied for housing due to this low score, making it difficult for her to want to continue looking for housing and worsening her depression. Thankfully, with the help of her case manager, she found an apartment for high risk people where she currently lives. Because she saved money while at Carpenter’s Mary was able to pay off past debts, obtain savings in the bank, and continue treatment for her illnesses. She is happy to finally be independent and is full of thanks to Carpenter’s Shelter for taking her in when it seemed no one else would. We wish all the best to Mary and are thrilled she achieved the new life she had been striving for.

*Names and likenesses have been changed for the protection of our clients

Tim’s Story

Tim’s Story

Tim came into the shelter enduring a lifelong battle with alcoholism, unable to get disability services and unable to find a steady job. He first became connected with Carpenter’s when he slept in the Winter Shelter in 2010, a program started to keep the homeless out of the cold from November through April. After two years went by, Tim decided to seek more help and attended a 30 day detox. Tim then came to Carpenter’s residential shelter.  Tim attended AA and Employment Readiness Workshops, classes given at the shelter regularly. He chose to leave the unstable environment he lived in previously for a stable and secure life at the shelter, a choice that was difficult but necessary for Tim’s success.

Tim’s good decisions led to finding several minimum wage jobs, but none seemed to stick. Through a friend, however, Tim met a retired veteran who owned a company laying cable and Tim immediately began working for him. Tim knew the trade skills he was learning would lead to sustainable and steady employment and became determined to achieve a better life. Thanks to the skills Tim learned he was able to move out of the shelter after six months and into his own apartment in Alexandria.

Tim still attends AA meetings and keeps in contact with the shelter. Because he chose to come to Carpenter’s Shelter instead of staying in an unstable environment, Tim is now sober and has a steady job. This willpower, along with help from Carpenter’s, led to a successful life for Tim.

*Names and likenesses have been changed for the protection of our clients

Meet Britney

Meet Britney

Britney was born homeless, with a mother unable to support her due to her mental illness. After a lifetime of living on the streets Britney’s mother moved into a transitional house, leaving Britney in the foster care system. She received support and services through the City of Alexandria, but stayed in the system for three years, until she was 18.

Once Britney turned 18 she moved into the Alexandria Community Shelter, where she met a good friend and quickly moved out with her into an apartment. However, Britney’s friend soon backed out of the lease and left Britney homeless once again.

When she had lost her job, home, and friends, Britney came to Carpenter’s Shelter, greatly in need of a support system and help. While at Carpenter’s Britney spent her time attending Employment Readiness Workshops which taught her resume writing, interview skills, and basic employment training. She soon found a job at Aramark part time thanks to her new skills and newly found ambition to succeed. However, Britney was diagnosed with severe depression and other mental health issues shortly after coming to Carpenter’s, making it hard for her to maintain relationships and employment. She struggled with making amends with her estranged family because of her illness, making Carpenter’s Shelter her only support system.

Halfway through her stay at Carpenter’s, Britney received news that her mother had passed away. This severely affected Britney, causing major setbacks and worsening her depression. Britney desperately wanted help and support but due to unpaid debts was unable to seek out a therapist. Carpenter’s Shelter became Britney’s only support system, and thanks to the help of friends and case managers she was able to keep her job and quickly pick herself up once again. She also received a slight pension from her mother, allowing her to spend only three more months at the shelter before moving out and finding an apartment in downtown Alexandria, where she now lives independently.

Britney’s story should be an inspiration for all of us, showing that your past does not define who you can become one day. Britney is now financially independent with a wide support system within and also outside of Carpenter’s, and has achieved goals we hope all of our client’s will obtain someday.

*Names and likenesses have been changed for the protection of our clients

Jasmine

Jasmine

In 2008, Jasmine came to Carpenter’s Shelter with her husband and three small daughters. Five years later she supporting her three daughters alone and working toward earning a degree in nursing thanks to the support of Carpenter’s Scholarship Program.

Ms. Williams

Ms. Williams

Upon arriving at Carpenter’s Shelter, Ms. Williams had never paid market rent for an apartment, ever. (more…)

Mr. C

Mr. C

Trisha’s Story

Trisha’s Story

Trisha and her husband emigrated from Eritrea in 2005. Within a few months of arriving in the United States, Trisha became pregnant. (more…)

Mr. Williams

Mr. Williams

Mr. Williams, like so many residents before him, ended up at Carpenter’s Shelter because of a lack of affordable housing in the DC Metro area. (more…)