Have you ever hit rock bottom and didn’t have anywhere to go? Or lost everything including your family?
In North Carolina, there are 11,448 homeless people, according to the Urban Ministry Center. But My Sister’s House, a 26-bed transitional living facility, is slowly helping lower that number.
The center, which is run by Friendship Baptist Church, helps homeless women get back on their feet by providing three meals a day and shelter. They also offer classes for women who don’t have stable housing, have lost their job or who don’t have job retention skills.
One of the women who has benefited from the services at My Sister’s House is a 23-year-old who lives in Charlotte. This woman did not want to be identified because she fears for her safety or job loss.
“I feel like I’ve been fighting for my life since the day I was born,” she said.
Her mom had complications during pregnancy, leaving her with a speech impediment. While she was in school, she had to be placed in classes that catered to students with special needs. Ultimately, because of domestic issues, Social Services placed her in a home with a close family friend. She stayed there until she eventually maxed out of foster care.
“Moving from place to place made me feel unloved and unappreciated,” she said.
She had many therapy sessions and they helped her a lot, she said.
But when she maxed out of foster care, she found she had nowhere to go. That’s when she found My Sister’s House.
She took the classes offered by volunteer teachers and applied for a job at a daycare. Soon after, she was hired.
Now she has her own apartment and is able to pay her bills, she said.
But more than that, she has a plan. Working at the daycare and seeing how her own mother raised kids has inspired her to want to open an in-home daycare, she said.
Success stories like the 23-year-old woman’s are what the center likes to see.
“Our clinical staff and interns assist residents who have mental health diagnosis with managing their symptoms and utilizing individual and group therapy sessions,” said Rosemary Lawrence, the volunteer coordinator with My Sister’s House. “The clinical therapy combined with the life skills and financial literacy coaching enables the resident to make measurable progress and ultimately sustain independent living.”
Added Jennifer Coble, executive director for My Sister’s House: The center “is a program, not a shelter.”
“It is designed to promote and sustain transition,” she said. “The combination of services provided by the clinical mental health staff and volunteers creates an environment that prepares the individual to embrace positive change.”
My Sister’s House is funded by private donations, grants and the proceeds from Great Things, a resale store at 1914 Beatties Ford Road, as well as Sweet Creations, a catering program at 3301 Beatties Ford Road.
Every $30 spent at Great Things pays for a one night stay for one resident at My Sister’s House. The resale store also provides free clothing for the residents.
The faith-based organization believes that work at the center helps bring the words of the gospel to life for women in need in Charlotte. In fact, one of the center’s favorite Bible verses is Matthew 25:35: “They believe in the scripture “For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in.”
This story was written as a part of the Charlotte Observer’s high school journalism Explorer Post.