At Families in Transition, we strive to provide support that considers each participant’s unique experience and strengths. Every one of our participants has a story to tell. We hope that the following stories—from program graduates and current participants—will inspire, encourage, and inform you.
We are deeply grateful to each and every participant who is willing to share their story.
Families in Transition Participant (Lowell Street Housing Program)
Carolina once lived the life many dreamed of—she was a stay-at-home Mom with two young children and maintained a very comfortable lifestyle in Bedford. She was involved with her community and was a passionate supporter of the arts. Her life entered a downward spiral when she and her husband filed for divorce. For nearly three years, Carolina found herself homeless until she recently moved into Families in Transition’s Lowell Street Housing Program.
During Carolina’s divorce, she lost the family’s home, her job and the apartment she shared with her children after separating from her husband. When she came to Families in Transition, Carolina was overjoyed when she saw the set of basic living necessities that were waiting for her in her new apartment at Lowell Street. She recounts, “The first memory was when I walked in and had a bed and dresser. It was very welcoming. It’s not like you’re walking into an empty room. That made the transition from being homeless into having a home.”
Living in one of the permanent supportive housing units at Lowell Street and enrolling in Families in Transition has given Carolina the strength and guidance she has been without for past the few years. Her experience with FIT has been a positive one. Upon entering her new apartment, she felt a warm welcome when she received her “Basic Necessities” basket. A Basic Necessities Basket is given to all FIT participants on arrival to the program and its contents vary based on the person’s needs. “Just seeing the dresser there and the bed, and then they asked ‘do you need a comforter?’ I said ‘yes!’ I also got some of the basics, like a broom, a toilet brush, and dishes.”
Families in Transition Participant
Originally on the fast track towards earning a college degree, Kristyn’s life path took a couple of unexpected turns and she found herself pregnant, homeless, and working to get custody of her child. Recently, Kristyn and her daughter moved into our Lowell Street Housing Program.
“I feel completely safe here. I like the program a lot,” Kristyn affirms. Living at Lowell has given a place for her daughter to call “home.”
Since she has been at Lowell, Kristyn has formed a close relationship with her Families in Transition Treatment Coordinator, Amy Malone. The individual relationships formed between participants and their case managers is one aspect of Families in Transition that Kristyn thinks is highly effective and deeply appreciates, “You have your own case worker assigned, so it’s more personal. They want to see people be able to get on their own two feet and not have to be so dependent.”
With the help of her treatment coordinator, Kristyn has begun to learn how to budget. “I need to pay off my bills, get my credit established, and get back on my own feet, so I can live without needing help.”
In the future, Kristyn hopes to finish getting her degree and provide her daughter with their own home. Being a participant at Families in Transition is a motivator for Kristyn to achieve these aspirations, helping her identify which aspects of her life need focus. She expresses, “They (Families in Transition) help keep your mind right. With them on my side, it’ll be a lot easier to be where I want to be in five years because of this program.”
FIT Participant (Concord Community Program)
As one of the first participants in the Concord Community Program, George fondly remembers the day he was accepted into the program. “The day that I got approved, when Monique [FIT Intake Coordinator] informed me that I was going to enter the program, she gave me a huge congratulations,” he recalls, smiling.
Chronically homeless and living on the streets of Concord, George found his way to Families in Transition in 2007. Homelessness is “definitely something I don’t wish on anyone,” George says. In and out of shelters, unable to meet the basic needs of nourishment, personal hygiene, and shelter, George knew that he couldn’t withstand the long wait for public housing. So, when a shelter worker referred him to FIT, George jumped at the chance for housing assistance.
For George, it was a combination of housing support and personal support that drew him to FIT. “The rent subsidy and always having somebody that I can turn to, literally, with a phone call,” he responds when asked about the most meaningful part of the program. From assistance in finding discounted glasses to help keeping his cat at his current apartment, the advice and support George has found at FIT and from his FIT case worker has been an invaluable resource.
Today, George is celebrating his third year off of the streets. As he looks back on his experience, he reflects on the elements of homelessness that many people never consider. “One thing I remember is that some of the simplest things that I take for granted now are things that were the biggest challenges” when he was homeless, he says. “Something as simple as washing up, rather than having to use a public restroom in a restaurant. To actually be able to put on clean clothes.”
Able to do these simple tasks with ease now that he has overcome homelessness, George tries to be mindful of the reality for others in the same position he once was. He also offers words of advice for those looking to make snap judgments about the homeless, “Just because you see someone who looks like they’re a little raggedy, and maybe a little smelly, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. It just means that they’re down on their luck.”
Better luck in hand, George is thankful for the everyday conveniences as well as the bigger effects from his time with Families in Transition. “[Families in Transition] has given me my life back,” he says. “If it wasn’t for Families in Transition, I wouldn’t have anywhere to go. I wouldn’t have anyone to turn to.”
In the spring of 2007, Michelle had experienced homelessness twice in the course of a year. Moving between shelters, apartments, and friends’ couches, she often had little privacy, independence, or certainty that any given home would remain hers for long. Staying at Angie’s, a women’s shelter in Manchester, New Hampshire, Michelle learned about Families as a Transition and sought out the program as a means to find housing.
Only four months after becoming a FIT participant, her situation changed drastically: undergoing knee surgery, Michelle discovered she was pregnant. The goals she had set for herself at the beginning of the program—getting a job, gaining financial independence, going back to school—had to be altered. “Seriously, having a baby wasn’t in there,” she says, laughing.
Working with FIT and developing a close relationship with her case manager, Amy, Michelle found the support she needed to navigate the frightening world of homelessness and single motherhood. “I told [Amy] what was going on. She listened to me rant and rave. She watched me cry. She saw how scared I was when I was becoming a mom. I had a lot of obstacles. She always listened,” Michelle recalls.
Over the next three years, Michelle worked with Amy and other FIT staff, gaining independence, growing into her role as a mother, and achieving her dream of going back to school. In May of 2010, she earned her certification for medical coding and billing. “That was a big milestone for me,” she smiles.
Recently graduated from the program and living in one of FIT’s Permanent Affordable Housing properties (“I’m really glad they’re still my landlords,” she says), Michelle looks back on her accomplishments at FIT. “I know how far I’ve come,” she proudly states. “I know where I started, and I know how far I’ve come.”
Families in Transition participant (Concord Transitional Housing)
Misty describes her situation before coming to FIT in stark terms, “Scared. Homeless. Pregnant.” Before March of 2010, the twenty-six-year-old soon-to-be-mother was splitting her time between couch surfing, staying in shelters, and living in her car.
Running into obstacles finding shelter or housing assistance in the Concord area, she had little hope that her situation would change. “It’s really, really hard,” she says about finding assistance. “There’s not much out there for people who are homeless. There’s really not.” She was finally referred to FIT by a shelter worker who told her, “Call Families in Transition, and they’ll be able to help.”
Five months later, Misty and her newborn daughter are comfortable in their new home. Entering the program with only a mattress, the apartment Misty and her daughter share is now well-furnished, thanks in many ways to Families in Transition. “They helped me out with everything I needed,” she says. The “Essential Basket” she received at move-in (provided to all FIT participants) contained housewares, toiletries, and towels, and she used vouchers to the OutFITters Thrift Store to buy much of her furniture.
Today, the apartment feels like a home. “It’s your own place, completely,” she says about how FIT’s housing differs from shelter living. Looking to the future, Misty hopes to find permanent housing of her own. “This is a great start to get out there and get your own place,” she says.
As she looks forward to her goal, she’s thankful that FIT is there to help with her transition to housing stability. “I don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for FIT.”
FIT participant (Family Willows IOP Graduate, Manchester Permanent Supportive Housing)
In May of 2008, Rebecca didn’t know where to turn. Pregnant, addicted to drugs and living with her mother after splitting from a fiancée on whom she’d been financially dependent, she felt hopeless about gaining independence. When she heard about Families in Transition from a friend, Rebecca had no idea about the array of services offered by FIT. “I just thought FIT was housing,” she says. “That’s all I thought it was.”
Two years later, Rebecca looks back in disbelief on the wealth of opportunities she found at Families in Transition. “There’s just—they do so much here and in the community that I really don’t know what I’d do without them,” she says. “It’s not only housing. That’s only one part of FIT . . . I love this place. And everything they offer,” she smiles.
The six months she spent in FIT’s Intensive Outpatient Program was only the beginning of her involvement at Families in Transition. Whether it was Christmas and Halloween programming for her kids (“Halloween is really one of my favorites,” she says), learning about feng shui and essential oils in self-care classes led by FIT employee Shasta, LDAC, or just the occasional FIT-sponsored lunch out at the Olive Garden with clinical staff and fellow participants, Rebecca felt she had access to amazing opportunities for personal growth, socializing, and fun. “This is definitely a unique experience,” she says, “and I really feel blessed to be a part of it.”
Knowing that she could have spent a similar amount of time (about 10 months) on the waitlist for many programs that offer just housing, Rebecca is thankful that she instead found a community at FIT. Proudly heading back to school this fall to get her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Rebecca hopes to one day work at FIT. “Because they’ve helped me so much,” she explains. “If I could help somebody or turn somebody’s life around, I’ve done my life’s work.”