Sharon* was struggling with homelessness, hopping from friends and family, to shelters, to anywhere she could lay her head. This desperation and longing for a safe space led to Sharon using substances to cope and engaging in prostitution to survive. It was then, that she found the Heartland Family Service Sanctuary House concealed emergency shelter.

Sharon had a tenuous beginning while staying at the Heartland Family Service Heartland Housing Sanctuary program, violating the confidentiality rule of the shelter. She also had picked up a new addiction – problem gambling.

During the time that she was discharged from the program, Sharon was served by the advocacy component of the Sanctuary House, continuing to try engaging with her from a community standpoint. Sharon’s advocate and case managers worked with her on setting small, achievable goals. At first, she struggled with trusting the Heartland Family Service staff, but by being reliable and honest, they were able to slowly build up the relationship.

Upon Sharon’s return to the Sanctuary House, she started to attend meetings on a more regular basis. She was selected for the Sanctuary House Rapid Re-Housing program and became very involved in the housing search process. At the same time, Sharon started working on her Social Security application and began having a better relationship with her children.

After such a promising turn of events, Sharon was unfortunately attacked while she was out in the community, searching for her new home. She spent a week recuperating but didn’t let that stop her on this journey to a new start.

While beginning therapy for her gambling addiction in the Heartland Family Service Problem Gambling Treatment program, Sharon began apartment viewings and slowly sharing more about her traumatic past. Just after she had bounced back strongly from her set-back, Sharon was signing a lease and moving into her own, safe place!

Sharon has continued to work with Heartland Family Service advocacy staff to obtain furniture, learn new skills, and even have her children visit at the new apartment for a few days at a time. She now loves attending therapy and keeping her apartment her “safe” space. Sharon wants to continue to grow and hopes to be able to one day speak about her experiences and inspire others. With the courage to rise above her struggles, now, Sharon Can.

* To protect our client’s rights, the client has been de-identified in this story. The photo is not a picture of our client.