Sherri had her first daughter while she was still in high school, and had 4 children by age 23. Despite being young, Sherri was determined to take care of her kids. "Having my oldest daughter…it puts you on the right track." She worked various jobs throughout their childhood and discovered she really enjoyed supporting people with intellectual disabilities. She moved up in her career and eventually worked as a Residential Director for families supporting loved ones with intellectual disabilities.
On June 25, 2015, Sherri received a phone call and experienced that unimaginable fear that all parents dread—her 21-year-old son had been shot and killed.
Sherri fell into a deep state of grief and began missing a lot of work, leading to being let go from her job. With no savings or emotional support, Sherri was evicted from her home and began staying with friends and family. Around this time, she became a home healthcare aid for someone with intellectual disabilities, and she eventually took up residence in a vacant house that belonged to someone she knew. Sherri lived at this location, with electricity but no running water, for nearly two years-- showering and cooking at the home of her work client.
On Oct. 19, 2018, she received a second unimaginable call – her oldest daughter died unexpectantly from congestive heart failure. This time the news included the reality that three of her grandchildren would immediately need her love and protection.
Sherri realized she could no longer continue to live the life she had been living. ”When it was just me, I was good. It wasn’t great, but it was just me…I couldn’t let that happen with my grandbabies.” She entered shelter and worked with the court system and other family to make custody arrangements for her grandchildren. Sherri became the primary caregiver for her 12-year-old granddaughter, who suffers with chronic lung disease and asthma- a condition she shares in common with Sherri.
On April 9, 2019 Sherri received yet another phone call – this time with good news. She had been approved for a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) voucher at the TRIO, a new apartment complex developed and managed by Horning Brothers with Community of Hope providing care for families coming out of homelessness. The PSH program supports families that have experienced chronic homelessness to find and maintain permanent housing through intensive case management, rental assistance, and specialized care for children and youth.
Sherri moved into the TRIO in August of 2021. She was overwhelmed with gratitude to have a home she didn’t have to leave and thrilled with the counter space to cook-- and most importantly, was excited to have a washer and dryer in the unit. “Being here…it’s breathtaking. It is like a relief. My biggest fear is to be homeless again. To get a place that is brand new? It is just wonderful.”
Sherri enjoys visits with her case manager, LaTaundra. LaTaundra shares, “Clients feel angsty – like this seems too good to be true or what if the voucher is taken away…caseworker support is important because it’s helping with the transition, so clients are not alone.”
Sherri agrees with her – "I can call her and she knows the answers, or if she doesn’t, she will get the answer promptly. Having her- I love it. She’s always so supportive and her attitude is always so pleasant. She doesn’t get irritated… if she does, she doesn’t show it,” she says with a laugh.
Community of Hope’s PSH program provides more than just housing. We believe in a holistic approach that focuses on all areas of family’s lives, including providing the tools they need to focus on their life goals. This could include things like goal-oriented case management, connection to employment, support for children with school/life challenges, pairing youth with mentors, and access to other community resources.
Sherri is looking forward to getting back to work with people with intellectual disabilities, or perhaps even working at a homeless shelter herself. When asked if Community of Hope had filled a hope for her, she said “I don’t have to worry about housing ever again. Just knowing I don’t have to worry about it lifts so much weight.”
For more information about how you can support programs like these, please visit https://www.communityofhopedc.org/donate.