We love how the new year inspires new beginnings. Perhaps you, like our Thomas House families, want to make positive changes in your life, whether it’s changing old habits, trying something new, or accomplishing a specific goal. Yet, I think we can all agree that embracing change and new beginnings takes courage, support, and the willingness to work through and overcome unexpected emotions and challenges along the way.
With community support, inspiring new beginnings is part of the year-round magic that happens at Thomas House Family Shelter. Together, our staff, volunteers, and a whole host of community supporters provide safe shelter, food, and supportive services to empower unhoused families with children, like Shawneque and her two sons, to set and reach their goals to become independent and self-sufficient.
We share their unique story in the hopes that you will be inspired to join us in empowering additional unhoused families with children to become independent and self-sufficient. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity for a new beginning.
After living in Seattle, Washington for a few years, Shawneque (27) and her two sons, Josiah (5) and Jeremiah (1), returned home to California to be closer to the support of her adoptive family and biological mother. Shawneque quickly found minimum wage work but was unable to find a safe and affordable place to live. As they moved from one Airbnb to another, Shawneque’s debt mounted, and her anxiety grew. When she could no longer pay for childcare, she missed work to care for her children. Unfortunately, she lost her job before she found solutions to her childcare and housing challenges.
Shelter and Supportive Services Provide New Beginnings
When she thought that all doors had closed and that she and her boys would be without a roof over their heads, they found Thomas House in September 2021. Shawneque was ‘over the moon’ ecstatic to be together with her boys in a safe apartment and supportive community. Shawneque felt ready for this new beginning, but she was also nervous and a little apprehensive. She and her boys had been through a lot.
With Thomas House assistance with childcare, Shawneque was able to begin to focus on herself and what she needed to accomplish to raise her boys independently. She started counseling sessions to address the trauma that led to her becoming homeless and begin the healing process. She also participated in our parenting classes to learn how to communicate more effectively with her children and to cope with the anxiety of being a single parent.
“Through therapy,” Shawneque says, “I learned how not to dwell in my past and focus more on the future for the sake of my children and myself.”
Throughout her stay at Thomas House, Shawneque met weekly with her Case Manager where Shawneque set out to attain four main goals: prioritize her mental health, obtain employment, gain parenting skills, and obtain permanent housing.
Shawneque also engaged the services of our Career Development Center and successfully obtained full-time employment as a receptionist with Rest Care OC.
Shawneque’s New Journey into Permanent Housing
In November 2022, Shawneque and her two sons moved into their very own two-bedroom apartment, a very special and emotional new beginning, indeed! With hard work, discipline, and dedication, Shawneque not only accomplished her four goals, but she also increased her hourly pay, fixed her credit rating, and improved her time management skills.
Shawneque felt excited and relieved to be moving into permanent housing, but also had some feelings of anxiety to be going out on her own. “When you are at Thomas House, you have the community to lean on and have neighbors to talk to, but in our new place, it can get a little lonely.”
Despite this new beginning feeling a bit overwhelming, she pushed herself to be strong for her children. “Our new place has lots of space for my boys to run around and play. I also get to enjoy inviting my family and friends over for dinner!”
We reminded Shawneque that she is part of the Thomas House family. As a Thomas House graduate, she and her boys continue to have access to many of our supportive services. Shawneque remains determined to continue growing and transforming into the woman she was always meant to be. In 2023, she wants to continue prioritizing her mental health, obtain a higher paying job in financial work or human resources, and become more involved in the programming at Josiah’s school.
Overjoyed with emotion, Shawneque says “Coming into Thomas House, I never expected to learn so much, and now I can say I learned more about myself as a woman. I now have a stronger bond and relationship with my children, family, and friends, have learned to take responsibility for my actions, and hold myself accountable. I am forever grateful to Thomas House!”
Help Provide Another New Beginning
Join us in empowering additional unhoused families with children to become independent and self-sufficient by making a donation today!