By J. Gregory Gerdel
The immediate cause of homelessness varies as widely as the individuals who find themselves without shelter or resources. Among the many causes are illness, injury, business failure, loss of a job, chemical addiction, mental illness, or a falling out with family.
For Laurie (not her real name), it was a family argument that left her on a street corner in Montpelier with nothing but a suitcase. A mother and grandmother in her early 40s, she expected to wind up sleeping in a doorway until she heard about the overnight shelter that operated through the winter months in the Fellowship Hall of Bethany Church.
“Without these guys, I would have nothing,” Laurie reflected on her experience with the staff and services provided through the Good Samaritan Haven. After three weeks at the Bethany Church Shelter, she is now living at the Haven in Barre, working two jobs to save for the rent and security deposit on an apartment of her own.
She explained that the network of services for homeless guests is essential for someone working to get back on their feet. Those services include employment counseling. At the Haven, she explained, “Everyone helps with the chores when we get up in the morning.” Then, bus passes are provided to get to Another Way in Montpelier, which provides shelter and activities through the day—and where she met with the employment counselor, leading to her current jobs.
As a person who spent most of her adult life in a large city, she is appreciative of the supportive community she has found in Central Vermont. She also noted the positive dimension of the community among her fellow guests at the Haven. “I have found some relationships that are going to be important for a long time.”
Laurie pointed out that the most important aspect of finding shelter and support was the mental stability it provided in an otherwise despairing situation. With a roof over her head, meals, transportation, and no personal complications of substance addiction, she was able to call on her experience with customer service, retail sales, and management skills to begin a transition to again being self-supporting.
This is just one success story among the many positive outcomes for guests endeavoring to get back on their feet, find safety, counseling, and support for resolving personal challenges.
For more information about the Good Samaritan Haven, visit goodsamaritanhaven.org or call