A Resident's Story
"I grew up in a town of 521 people, had a normal life and a typical childhood. I was in sports, had a supportive family and a financially stable home. I had good school attendance, made decent grades and didn’t give in to peer pressure. After high school, I was accepted into Western Wisconsin Technical College – La Crosse for the Fall Semester where I continued to make good grades. I enjoyed every minute of the experience and was proud of myself. But what I didn’t know was that I was about to lose my mother.
Working several shifts all weekend and finals close at hand, I came home from school only to see my mother packing her things into a U-Haul. Within minutes she started the engine and left without even saying “I love you.” She never turned around on her way to a new home in Missouri.
The next day, I had to find an apartment for my sister and me. I had to start thinking about school for her and how I was going to help raise a 14 year old girl. I had to think how I was going to support her emotionally and financially while I tried to protect myself too. With finals coming up and my job on the line, I was grateful for the one thing I did have – my boyfriend Brandon. He helped us move to Rice Lake where my sister started high school. Being from such a small town, she was overwhelmed with how many kids were in her class. The teaching methods were different, and nobody knew who she was. She started skipping school and came home with such an attitude, I didn’t know what to do. I was working in Hayward and by the time I made it home at the end of a long day, there was little time to sit down and talk through how to make things better. After 5 months of trying to raise her on my own, we agreed it would be best for her to move to Missouri and live with our mother.
My heart felt like someone was tearing it in half.
After a month had passed, things were starting to look up. I was working double shifts, keeping all my bills paid a month in advance and my family was starting to come around. But the new problem was that Brandon and I had started to argue all the time, and right about then, I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor staring at a positive pregnancy test. With my heart racing, hands shaking and so many thoughts going through my head, Brandon walked through the front door. We stayed up all night talking through the options and made the decision to bring our son, Kamron Kyle, into the world. It was the best, but most terrifying, decision I’ve ever made.
Then one thing led to another. I lost my job, fell behind on my bills and our arguing continued to get worse. We agreed to separate. My car was repossessed. I was falling through the cracks. With nowhere else to go, I moved in with my stepfather who was in the middle of divorcing my mom. This was a disastrous decision. He began drinking every night telling me I reminded him of my mother. And things disintegrated from there.
I don’t know where I would have ended up if I hadn’t been welcomed into the open arms of Benjamin’s House Emergency Shelter. I was terrified walking into something I never knew. Something that, based on stereotypes, was a place built for addicts and the mentally disturbed. Not someone like me.
But when I arrived, the case manager and executive director sat me down and told me they would do anything they could to help me succeed. The first thing they did was bring me to dinner. I was terrified to be judged or ignored, but it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Most of the residents saw Kamron and his cute face made them want to talk to me. I got to meet every resident and learned that I wasn’t alone in what I was going through. Nearly everyone was in the same position, or a similar one, to me.
I don’t know what I would have done without the opportunity to go to Benjamin’s House. I don’t think I would have been able to support and protect my son. He is so happy and that is truly the only reason why I’m living. I love being able to provide for his needs, being able to let him play with toys on the floor, letting him crawl around knowing he won’t get hurt. Knowing he is sleeping safely in his own room with heat on cold winter nights and air conditioning on hot summer days. Having food in his tummy and giving him cuddle time any time he needs it. I am so blessed to have found Benjamin’s House."
While at Benjamin’s House, this resident attended post-secondary school while working and raising her son as a single mom. Upon her departure, she successfully found housing and a car. Today she is finishing school while continuing to work and has maintained the same home and car.