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New Community Shelter Update: Confidence- Pride - Self Dignity

To protect the confidentiality of this individual, I will refer to her as Margaret.

Today will serve as one of those days I’ll always remember as having had the opportunity to experience the result of some of the amazing things that happen here at the New Community Shelter. Today the staff said good bye and offered sincere well wishes to Margaret as we celebrated her move out into the community into her own apartment.

As we sat around the table eating cup cakes, Margaret shared--with the utmost sincerity and at times with tears in her eyes – her appreciation for all she received from the New Community Shelter. Those of us who had known Margaret since her arrival at the shelter know just how far she has come. When asked about her search for her new apartment, she shared that the last time she searched for a home was in the sixties. She had purchased a home for $9,500 – her mortgage payment was around $98 per month - she shared her initial shock of the cost to rent an apartment today. You see...Margaret is 60 years old.

She was originally from Wisconsin but had returned here following a divorce from her husband. Both of her children live here. Though she moved here to be near family – the idea of living with her son was beginning to feel uncomfortable because as Margaret put it “parents are supposed to take care of their kids, not the other way around.” Margaret struggled with anxiety issues when she arrived at the shelter, and this was evident the first day she became a resident in our Emergency Program. Margaret was assigned a bunk bed on our third floor – a room she shared with seven other women of various ages and backgrounds.

After weekly meetings with her case manager and anxiety medication assistance from the county, it wasn’t long before Margaret stated “I can’t WAIT to work and earn a living." With the help of her case manager and our Employment Readiness Class, Margaret created her own impressive resume. It took her a few months, but finally Margaret landed herself a job. She still has the job today and she still LOVES it!!

Like most of our residents, Margaret does not own a car. Just learning to maneuver the city bus system caused her great stress, however Margaret took on that challenge by requesting a bicycle and put her name on the waiting list. Soon it became an everyday thing to see Margaret peddling down Mather St. – back pack on her back on her way to work – every day. Remember – Margaret’s 60. She continued to use the city bus system as a back-up sometimes when the weather was not cooperating. The issue of safety with regard to riding a bike to and from work did start out concerning for her, however after we obtained a bike light and helmet for Margaret those concerns were gone.

Though she now had a steady job, anxiety prevented Margaret from immediately seeking an apartment in the community – an apartment outside of the New Community Shelter environment/support -- so she decided to fill out an application to participate in The New Community Shelter Transitional Living Program, which is a program that offers a single unit apartment on our 2nd floor with an affordable monthly program fee required. Margaret was accepted. To say she was emotional when she heard the news is a great understatement!!!

An individual is eligible to utilize out Transitional Living Program for up to 24 months. Margaret was actually the FIRST who actually did so. As a matter of fact, when it came time to discuss her plan to move out into the community – as her case manager suspected, it was not the happy & positive conversation you might think. The New Community Shelter offered hope, safety, and support for Margaret – her anxiety level rose just with the thought of it.

What Margaret failed to realize initially is she gave us way too much credit. All she had gained with regard to her self dignity, her self confidence, and now her self sufficiency, she did herself…and she worked hard at it, every day.

So yes, today we celebrated. We ate cup cakes and each of us – I think all of us – shed a few tears. Tears that represented almost “gratefulness” for the opportunity to actually see and FEEL what we do here at the New Community Shelter. We celebrated EXACTLY what we do …..we help people…..even people like Margaret – in her sixties – help themselves.

Before she left Margaret pointed out to us the bracelet she was wearing today. She said that a friend gave it to her the day that same friend dropped her off at the shelter – to get help. Today she wore it in celebration as the day she would leave the shelter a stronger, independent, and self sufficient member of our community. She described herself as a productive member of the community.

It was a good day. (P.S. Margaret was smiling ear to ear as she shared that she now even has a garage for her bike.)

New Community Shelter, Inc.
301 Mather Street
Green Bay , WI 54303
Tele: (920) 437.3766 Extension 101
Fax: (920) 617.0036

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