It was Christmas Eve and Emily and her four children were sleeping in their broken down van, with no heat, in Flagstaff during the bitter cold winter. Luckily, Emily found the help she needed to turn her life around.
Domestic Abuse Leads to Homelessness
Emily, a young, single mother of four in Flagstaff, already struggling to make ends meet, was also a victim of domestic violence. Her abuser not only physically and mentally abused her, he caused her to lose her much-needed employment, over and over again. He would show up at her job and cause problems, getting her fired, several times.
In addition, each apartment Emily found wouldn’t remain home for long because her abuser would show up there and cause problems too, getting her evicted. Between losing employment and losing her apartment, Emily was losing hope too.
She did what she could to provide for her kids, using community soup kitchens and food pantries, walking them to school in the snow. They bounced from motel to motel until she was completely penniless and had nowhere to go. They were living in their van, which by now, had also broken down, meaning no heat during the cold winter. But, that was the last Christmas Eve Emily and her family would spend in such dire circumstances.
Finding a Safe Place
Luckily, Emily was able to connect with a caseworker from Catholic Charities in Flagstaff
. With assistance from several Catholic Charities programs, including the PATH homeless outreach program
, family shelter, and case management services to help connect her with other community resources, Emily was able to find shelter that night, eventually moving into a long-term lease in a safe apartment.
Even more important, she received help getting an order of protection in place to keep her abuser away from her and her children. Leaving the abuse, and her abuser behind, she was able to find long-term employment. She and her children were able to receive counseling to help them deal with the trauma they had suffered. Day by day, the family continues to grow stronger and more independent.
“I would never had made it without this place,” said Emily about the temporary shelter Catholic Charities provided that Christmas Eve.