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Discovering Success During the Toughest Days

Homelessness, a state many hope to never be in. If it occurred, due to difficult circumstances, would you know where to look for assistance?

Leslie, a wife, and mother of four boys found herself evicted from her home for the first time ever. She was also in a physically abusive relationship. Leslie was at her lowest point with no resources.

After looking through the Helpline Center’s Resource Guide Book, she discovered a United Way funded program called Heartland House. Leslie went through an application process and a short waiting period before being officially welcomed into the transitional housing program in 2014. For Leslie, someone being evicted and looking for a way out of an abusive relationship while providing for her kids, this program was the best resource for her.

Heartland House uses a Rapid Re-Housing model, an intervention designed to help individuals and families quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing. To qualify for housing in this program, families must be homeless, have children who would be living in the home, and be willing to commit to case management. For Leslie, her case manager, Jesika, is what saved her as she continued to struggle.  Leslie shared with Jesika about her goals for her family, which started with budgeting. The two sat down together to plan for Leslie’s future. Through the two years of her stay at Heartland House, Leslie was able to become more financially stable, find employment, buy a car, and officially moved out of the program when she purchased her first home for her and her boys… her biggest goal! Jesika stated, “Leslie, faced so many challenges over the years but never let that take her down. I am so proud of what she was able to accomplish just from the resources we provided her.” 

As a result of her successes, Leslie was nominated for the local Sgt. Schriver Award and she was presented with it during the annual “Give from the Heart” event. Leslie said, “At first when I heard about the nomination, I felt like I shouldn’t be awarded for doing something I should have been doing all my life; budgeting. The more I thought about it, I realized this award was more about me not giving up when life throws a curve ball. Receiving this award is so important to me, as it’s not about what happened to receive it, but how I got through it.”

Being recognized for this award not only means a lot to Leslie, but also for everyone at Heartland House.  Leslie said, “There are a lot of stigmas around homelessness. Many believe those affected are lazy and don’t want to work or are addicted to something. I want the community to know this isn’t always the case, and homelessness can happen to anyone when something unforeseen happens.”

No one hopes or plans to become homeless, but Heartland House is there for community members who find themselves in that difficult situation. Your support of Sioux Empire United Way is currently helping 54 families get back on their feet through Heartland House. The program’s connections and resources help those in need have a home again and find employment to allow them to provide for their families and integrate back into the community through the workforce. Without this program, many would continue to struggle and never be able to find the appropriate way to bring themselves out of their current circumstances.