Having recently been released from incarceration, a single mother in crisis came to the Shepherd Center seeking assistance with food, utilities and rent. Her situation was a perfect fit for our Esther Project and she was enrolled in the program right away. Participants in the Esther Project receive life skills training, such as learning how to create a budget and prepare nutritious meals, and they are paired with a mentor to help guide them along their personal journey towards self-sufficiency. Since being in the Esther Program she has been able to maintain adequate housing for herself and her son. She also was awarded custody of relatives’ children so they would remain with family and out of foster care. The Esther Project has become her support network. She continues to set personal goals including obtaining her license to drive, and she is looking for more suitable housing to accommodate her extended family needs. She is active at a local church and has nearly perfect attendance in the Esther program. She never fails to check in with her mentor and is always open to receiving advice. She has made it known to many that the program has significantly impacted her life.
Five years ago she was severely injured in an accident that left her bed ridden and house bound for almost four years. After having several unsuccessful surgeries and being diagnosed with PTSD she became very depressed. Due to her physical condition she was unable to work and money was running out. She was faced with her house going into foreclosure, the utilities being shut off, car insurance lapsing, and no food to feed her family. She was feeling completely defeated. Fortunately, she found The Shepherd Center. “I remember like it was yesterday. I’ve always been a giving person and now I was on the other side needing help. I shoved my pride aside for the sake of my family and forced myself to get up and go to The Shepherd Center. Initially this left me feeling more dispirited than perhaps the accident did. I never imagined I would find myself in this position, but there I was asking for help.”
The Shepherd Center helped pay a portion of her utility bill and provided her with food for her family. Because of her giving nature, she immediately offered to volunteer as her way of giving back to The Shepherd Center and also to help others. “This was so rewarding to me, and very therapeutic as well, I was feeling some self worth again, and finding myself looking forward to getting up in the morning, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I wasn’t helping The Shepherd Center as much as they were helping me, I felt alive again.”At first, she worked while using a cane and it was hard to keep up with the fast pace of the Food Pantry but she showed up anyway and helped sort through food donations. With each passing week she found herself moving more freely, and was able to stop using a cane to assist her with walking. “The more I volunteered, the better I felt, and the better I was moving.” She has been a huge help to the food pantry and The Shepherd Center is very fortunate to have her among its ranks of wonderful volunteers.”The Shepherd Center, not only provided me with food, and helped keep my utilities on, they gave me my life back. I feel so very blessed to be able to help give a hand up to folks that need it, like volunteers and staff did for me when I came to them broken and asking for help.”