When Mamie Sanders received the letter from her landlord stating her rent would be considerably raised, she had no choice but to move out in 30 days. With affordable housing a rare find, she and her three children (ages 12, 17 and 18) were without anywhere to live. So they split up and stayed with different family members in Bradenton.
Sanders, a medical technician, had to commute to her job in North Port. “Unfortunately, things got worse,” she said. Sanders lost her job and eventually her car too. Her daughter also was in a serious car accident and required medical attention and physical therapy.
It was suggested to Sanders that she contact the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Family Haven, a shelter for homeless families located in North Port. “My children did not want to go to the shelter,” she said. “They were afraid. But once we arrived, they were happy. It was all about finding a home in North Port where we could all be together again and they could go back to their schools and their friends.”
The Sanders family stayed at the shelter for two weeks where they received comprehensive case management services to become self-sufficient. Catholic Charities also assisted the family with a hotel stay. “I kept a positive attitude,” Sanders said. “Catholic Charities helped me find a home that I could afford.” Financial assistance for rent also was provided.
Sanders found a new job as a medical technician and was quickly chosen as employee of the month. “My coworkers never knew what I was going through,” Sanders said. “I remained upbeat and prayed to God asking if he was closing doors just so he could open up new ones for me.” Sanders plans to go back to school to receive another certification to be a medical surgical technician.
The Catholic Charities Family Haven, Sanders said, was the critical piece in the solution to her problems. “When I arrived there, I began to feel that I had a real chance of getting out of the hole I was in,” she said. “It was the first step toward stabilizing my life.”
Sanders said the whole experience has changed herself and her family. “I am a different person now,” she said. “My children understood everything we were going through and were supportive of me all the way. They made sacrifices but now we are together and moving forward in life.”
The Catholic Charities Family Haven is an emergency shelter for families with children who are homeless and do not otherwise have a place to stay. Families receive immediate assistance along with long-term case management services with the goal of becoming permanently housed. Catholic Charities has partnered with other non-profit agencies to create the Family Alliance to provide a comprehensive care approach to each homeless family in need.