EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is the third in a four-part series for the Beverly Citizen’s annual Gifts of Hope campaign.
Though it took months of saving and some assistance from Beverly Bootstraps, Sandra* and her two adult children will finally have a roof over their heads this Christmas.
Sandra and her children have been homeless for two years, often spending nights sleeping in her car when they had no other option.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” she said of the situation. “I became very shut down and I didn’t believe in anybody anymore.”
However, things have been improving since Bootstraps helped get Sandra and her family into an apartment about a month ago.
“We’ve had a couple of rough nights,” she admits, explaining she’s just thankful to have a floor upon which to sleep. “Starting over is the most difficult thing someone can do.”
Beverly Bootstraps case manager Greg Ezell explained that helping people like Sandra is the reason the organization exists.
“We’re not here to turn people away, and then when we go home at night, see them sleeping on a park bench,” he said. “We don’t ever want to see someone homeless.”
Often, state and federally-funded programs cannot help people like Sandra because they don’t qualify for certain funding. That’s where organizations like Bootstraps can make a huge difference.
Describing herself as a go-getter who has always worked hard, Sandra said she simply fell on hard times, which people often do.
“I tell people all the time that the reason we’re here is for people going through a rough patch,” Ezell said. “We’re not some government agency that’s just going to turn you away. We want to get you on your way to sustainability.”
Sandra explained that putting a deposit down on an apartment was difficult because she needed a lot of money up front.
“I saved and saved and saved until all I needed was $800,” she said, explaining she sought help from Beverly Bootstraps.
After talking it over with the rest of Bootstraps’ case management team, Ezell said he was able to get Sandra the funding she needed to get her into the apartment.
“We believed in her,” he said. “I’ve known her for a long time, and I know she’s a strong person.”
Now that Sandra and her family have a roof over their heads, the next step is to furnish their new apartment.
“We’re working on getting her some furniture,” said Ezell. “We want to help them get back into a routine. They’ve had no normalcy for two years.”
A neighbor gave the family a small television, and Sandra and her children enjoy gathering around it to watch TV together after dinner.
“We’re doing our best,” she said.
Over the years, Sandra has also taken advantage of several other services offered through Bootstraps, which has helped her family put Thanksgiving meals on the table, Christmas gifts under the tree and clothes on their backs.
“I am extremely grateful for Beverly Bootstraps for all they did for me,” she said. “They’ve really made a huge difference in our lives.”
* Names in this article have been changed.