Thinking back to where she was four years ago, Erica Walker is happy to be where she is now. From living in a shelter and working odd jobs, to having financial stability and her own apartment, Erica credits all of her accomplishments to Community of Hope.
However, before Community of Hope, Erica’s life wasn’t the one she imagined for herself. Erica is one of thousands of families coming through DC’s shelter system. She and her three children (at the time) were in shelter for over a year. “I tried to spend as much time as I could outside of the shelter, only having to be there for curfew,” she said. “It wasn’t the best place, but I had to make it work for me. It made me want to work harder so that I could provide for my children.”
Erica’s routine consisted of getting her children ready for school and keeping busy during the day. Working odd jobs here and there or just hanging with her friends became the only schedule she knew. She wanted more for herself and for her children, but it was hard doing so by herself; she needed help.
In 2015, Erica was assigned a case manager through the Rapid Re-housing program at Community of Hope. This program helps families experiencing homelessness exit the shelter quickly and move into their own homes with the help of rental and utility assistance and supportive services. Within months, she could tell that she was receiving the help that she desperately needed. “It’s such a good program to be a part of!” she exclaimed. “I made sure to take advantage of all the resources, advice, and tips they had to offer.”
“I always knew that I would need help because I couldn’t make it on my own as a single mom. If I didn’t have help, I would’ve gone back to the shelter and still be struggling.”
With the help of her case managers, she was able to set short and long-term goals. One important goal was getting a job and with the help of her Employment Specialist, Jackie Charneco, she secured a position as an armed special police officer. Jackie helped Erica with interviewing techniques and resources to find interview clothes and transportation. COH was also able to fund licensing and training fees she needed in order to work – something that she couldn’t have afforded on her own.
“My case manager and those helping me made me want to push myself to do more. They taught me not to procrastinate and to write out my goals, that way I can see them.”
It’s been a trickling effect for Erica; stable housing provided a stable income, which lead to a happier and stable family. With a clearer view of her future, Erica is excited for what it holds. She plans to spend more time with her children, travel, and work on building her credit. “My children keep me motivated and grounded because I know I have to provide for them. Just seeing them smile and be happy kids are all I need to keep pushing myself.”