Ms. Marilyn Wills never thought she would become homeless. She had worked in customer service and food service jobs, when she unexpectedly became the legal guardian for her baby granddaughter. She could no longer work regular hours and money got tight. Then, some dynamics shifted in her living situation, and she was forced to move out, along with her granddaughter and teenage son. Unemployed and now homeless, Ms. Wills had nowhere to go.
“My life was going so well,” Ms. Wills said. “I never thought that I would become homeless. When it happened, it just blew me out of the water. I didn’t have a clue what to do.”
That cold winter night, they ended up at DC General, Washington, DC’s largest emergency shelter. Ms. Wills and her family stayed there for four months while she worked on finding a more stable place to live.
She found her way to Community of Hope’s Rapid Re-Housing program, and on April 1, she proudly signed a lease on a new apartment. The Rapid Re-Housing program provides short-term rent payment assistance and the support of a case manager who helps her work to regain stability for her family.
Her case manager Shaunte Chandler connected Ms. Wills with our employment specialists to facilitate the job search, and helped her access high-quality healthcare again, right here at our Conway Health and Resource Center.
Before, when Ms. Wills had a health question, she would head to a local walk-in clinic and see “whoever they had on call.” Now, she said, “it feels good to have a doctor who knows me, instead of every visit saying, ‘Who are you again?’”
Her provider at Conway worked with Ms. Wills to adjust her medications and better monitor her health. “My doctor told me to watch what I eat,” she said. “I’m trying not to eat so much fried chicken.” She completed a mammogram at Breast Care for Washington, our partner organization located on the first floor of the building, and received our dental care services upstairs. “I can’t believe all this stuff is in this building!” she said.
Now that Ms. Wills has a stable place to live, a doctor she trusts and a supportive case manager, she can focus on meeting her big goal: family-sustaining employment. “My granddaughter is starting kindergarten now,” she said. “I’m available to work all day!”
We wish Ms. Wills the best as she works towards meeting that goal. We are inspired by her resilient spirit and are proud to support her as she creates stability and self-sufficiency for her family.