By the time Chassidy Nolen had decided to come to KCEOC for help, she felt hopeless, defeated, scared, and exhausted. Her life, like a lot of ours, had its ups and downs. It just seemed that for Chassidy, however, the downs outweighed the ups. She was in a broken marriage. She lost part of her leg in an automobile accident a few years ago, and hasn’t been able to drive herself anywhere ever since. Her family was growing further and further apart as a result of her apathy towards her relationship. Loved ones became distant, and Chassidy felt like she had nowhere else to go, no one else she felt comfortable asking for help.
Chassidy met her husband in high school. She describes him as being athletic and good at every sport. “He still holds a lot of records there” she explained. The high school sweet hearts would soon marry after graduating. The two of them would go on to have three children together and Chassidy began growing more and more dependent on her husband. “I depended on him for everything - emotionally, financially, everything, especially after the car accident.He drove everywhere, I was scared to. I haven’t really driven since then.”
Things soon began to change for Chassidy and her family. Her husband began abusing drugs and it wasn’t long before he was addicted. Chassidy decided to stay with her husband, however, hoping he would beat the addiction and things could go back to the way they were. They didn’t, and Chassidy’s extended family weren’t happy, “they thought I was his cheerleader, that I was okay with him doing drugs.”
Chassidy’s relationship with her husband got even worse. “It became poisonous” she explained. “It was abusive, and I felt trapped. I didn’t know what to do.” Because of her disability, Chassidy felt she would just be adding to her family’s problems if she went to them for help. She feared they would just see her as another burden.
Chassidy was defeated, “I had nowhere to go. I just needed out of the situation.” Chassidy soon became desensitized to her husband’s drug abuse and had accepted their life now, “I needed support, for someone to tell me I could do better.” Chassidy fell into depression as a result of her husband’s drug abuse. “I would just stay in the house all of the time” she recalls. “I’m a people-person, a big talker, so staying cooped up was hard for me.”
After a 19 year marriage, many years of abuse, bouts of depression, losing the trust of her family, Chassidy decided she needed to get help. She had learned through the community that KCEOC Community Action Partnership had a homeless shelter. “I just looked for the phone number in the phone book. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just knew I had to get out.”
Chassidy and her two youngest children showed up to the KCEOC Emergency Support Shelter in the middle of the night. “I was nervous and intimidated, I didn’t know what to expect. I had seen movies where they show homeless shelters, and thought this one would be like them: dingy, scary, big, cold, but that wasn’t the case.” Chassidy stayed in the KCEOC Emergency Support Shelter for 30 days, and while there her and her children were provided food, shelter, water, a place to sleep, support, etc.
The staff at KCEOC’s Emergency Support Shelter referred Chassidy to take part in the KCEOC Continuum of Care Program. While in this program, Chassidy’s case was turned over to KCEOC Case Manager, Sheila Wyatt. Wyatt and Chassidy met and discussed a needs assessment for Chassidy and her family. It was determined that the family needed a new place to live, and a steady income. Wyatt then constructed an Action Plan for Chassidy which included housing searches, counseling services by Wyatt, Wyatt discussing and making sure Chassidy understood housing leases by using documents such as “Finding a Place to Live” and “How to be a Good Renter.” These documents are keys in helping make sure any client that goes through KCEOC’s Continuum of Care Program is prepared for long-term housing.
Wyatt was also responsible for meeting with local land owners, and potential landlords for Chassidy. Wyatt also provided Chassidy with credit counseling, and helped resolved any credit issues hindering Chassidy from being successful after leaving the Continuum of Care Program. The program also aims to help program participants locate resources including federal, state, and local benefits outside of KCEOC. “I didn’t even have an ID when I came to the shelter, I didn’t have a social security card either. I needed both to sign up for food stamps, which Sheila and KCEOC helped me do.”
Through KCEOC’s Continuum of Care Program, Chassidy was able to obtain a new place to live. KCEOC helped pay the security deposit and the utilities deposits of Chassidy’s new home. “Everything just happened so quick” Chassidy said, “it was like a whirl-wind. I didn’t really have time to process it.” Chassidy also admitted that though she was grateful for all KCEOC had done for her, she had found herself a little overwhelmed and unsure about her chances of being successful out on her own. “I would call Sheila and tell her about how I was feeling pessimistic. It was just a lot of pressure trying to get everything caught up. I didn’t think I would be able to get on my feet and everything was stacked up against me. Once one bad thing would happen, another one would, like a domino effect.”
Chassidy feared that once she left the shelter she would no longer hear from KCEOC or receive support and resources. However, part of the Continuum of Care Program is a continued monitoring by the KCEOC Case Manager to see how the program participant is adjusting after leaving the Emergency Support Shelter. “Sheila doesn’t cut off at 5 o’clock” Chassidy said explaining the times she’s called Wyatt after most are done working for the day. “She’s one in a million.”
Chassidy was also the recipient of KCEOC’s Adopt a Family Program. Through the program sponsors can support families staying in the KCEOC Emergency Support Shelter. Sponsors in the past have purchased clothing, furniture, toys, and other miscellaneous items a family may need when starting over. Chassidy’s sponsor helped with providing Chassidy with cleaning supplies for her new home. Her sponsors provided her children with new school clothes, and school supplies for the new school year, “we didn’t even have notebook paper. I’m really grateful that there are people out there who are willing to help complete strangers. They’ve helped me and my kids more than they know.”
Chassidy has been out of the shelter and in her new home for a few months now. Her children were able to stay in the same schools they were in before their stay in the shelter. “They were worried we would have to move away, and they would have to start at new schools” Chassidy laughed. She’s able to relax more which she attributes to KCEOC and the reassurance she receives from her check-ins with her Case Manager. “I actually went out the other day. We went to the movies.” She plans on being more active in the future, watching her youngest son’s football games, over-coming her fear over driving and getting back behind the wheel of a car, and reconnecting with her family. “I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without KCEOC. I’m truly grateful for everything they’ve done for me and my kids. This really does feel like a fresh start, a second chance.”