This year we served over 90 families in our Residential Program. Living in shelter is a difficult situation for the families we serve, however often times, the effects of living at Raphael House can be positive and unexpected. Families will learn and take with them much of the structure, rules and ideals of Raphael House when they move into their own homes.
Here are a few examples of the successes of our families.
Jane, single mother of two, learns to budget
Jane, a single mother with two young children, came into shelter for what she thought would be a one-month stay. After her first few caseplan meetings, it came out that Jane’s credit card balances were through the roof and she needed help budgeting her paychecks. Although the family had only planned to stay one month, they ended up staying almost four months due to construction issues on their apartment. Every two weeks, Jane and her case manager would sit down and talk about ways to reduce her credit card balance. During her last budget meeting, Jane calculated that she would finally be able to fully pay off all her credit cards that she had been working so hard to reduce. She had stopped receiving phone calls from creditors and felt that at last she could look into the future and start saving for her children’s education. She then took all of her credit cards out of her wallet and with a dramatic flair, picked up the scissors from the desk, cut them all up, and placed them in an envelope: “I want to keep them so I remember how far I’ve come.’
Karin, the honor roll student and photographer
When Karin came to Raphael House she was a quiet and frustrated twelve-year old. Karin and her mother had lost their apartment in Oakland nine months earlier because her mother had been laid off from her job. Prior to losing their home, Karin was an honor roll student and part of her school dance team; yet the stress and inconsistency of moving around so much caused Karin to miss school and her grades suffered. By the time Karin and her mother arrived at Raphael House, Karin was understandably upset and frustrated, feeling as if her life was spinning out of her control.
The Raphael House Children’s Program staff understood that Karin needed support and the opportunity to be a child. With the consistency of the AfterSchool Program at Raphael House, Karin was able to focus on her schoolwork and improve her grades. Participation in the weekend activities hosted by Raphael House allowed her to build friendships with other children her age. One weekend Karin went on a whitewater rafting field trip, during which she challenged herself both mentally and physically. She gained confidence as the leader of her raft and at the end of the day she proudly proclaimed, “I owned those rapids.” Throughout her stay at Raphael House, Karin continued to participate in tutoring sessions and weekend activities and started to participate in her school’s clubs. Before leaving Raphael House for their new permanent home, Karin was able to assert with confidence “Did you know that I am a photographer, cheerleader, softball player, and scholar?” Raphael House helped make Karin and her mother’s experience of homelessness a mere bump in the road toward the better life they are making for themselves.