Success Stories

♥.♥.♥

Success Stories of Former Guests

by Jenny Leaf, former L&F Director 

Loaves and Fishes Ministries is here to serve our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness. No matter the season, we offer a place for our guests to feel safe enough to gather their thoughts, make plans, and go forward with their own sense of newness and hope. While not everyone is able to move into their own housing after they leave the shelter, we make sure that those who aren’t able to find affordable housing can celebrate other successes and progress they make during their stay with us. We would like to share some success stories! (Note: Names changed to protect their identities)

“Sally” came to the shelter after living in an abandoned house for over three weeks. While she was here she was able to sign up for subsidized housing programs and gather resources and referrals to various programs in the community. It had been difficult for Sally to access other programs because she was constantly focusing on staying safe and surviving. She was also able to use the shelter as a mailing address while she was here which helped her to follow through on assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services. Sally was unable to find permanent housing during her stay with us, but she continued to return to pick up her mail. One day she was happy to report she received her subsidized housing voucher and moved into her own place. We haven’t seen her since then because she now has her own address to get her mail.♥

 

“Monica” moved into Zacchaeus House long-term transitional program with her 3-year-old son toward the end of summer. She was pregnant with a due date shortly before Christmas. Shortly after she moved in, Monica was able to find employment and childcare for her son. A week before Thanksgiving she went into labor and her second son was born, just over 4 weeks early. Thankfully baby and mama were just fine, and both came home three days after he was born. Monica and her children used the time she was off work to bond as a family of three, and she was able to access housing assistance resources. By the time she returned to work, her name had come up on a subsidized housing list and she was able to locate safe and affordable housing. After an eight month stay at Zacchaeus House, Monica obtained and maintained full-time employment, paid the minimal program fee every month, added a beautiful family member, and located and moved her family into their own apartment. ♥

 

“Joe” stayed at the shelter for two weeks and while he was here, he was able to apply for subsidized housing programs available for people experiencing homelessness. The Guest Advocate was able to help Joe obtain the various documents he needed for these housing applications, such as identification, birth certificate, and proof of homelessness. With all of his documentation and his application complete, he was placed on a waiting list. Eight months later, Joe returned to the shelter because his name finally came up on the waiting list. During his second stay, the Guest Advocate helped him turn in yet another batch of documentation so he could receive his housing voucher and then helped him find a landlord. Joe was able to move from the shelter into his own affordable housing. ♥

 

More Personal Success Stories

 Testimonies by Former L&F Guests

“Jennifer’s” Story I have been through some things in my life, most from choices made by myself. I met the father of my girls while working at the same factory he did. Things seemed like everything was OK. I justified his drinking in the beginning and told myself it was not bad. He started drinking more when the girls were born, fourteen months apart. Things got worse when he was laid off. Because I had justified things, I accepted how I was treated. Then he started treating the girls that way. I wouldn’t have it. While I was at work, he let anyone in the neighborhood watch the girls. There were many days that I dreaded going to work as I felt something was going to happen. The girls and I left him. Someone else was showing interest in me. That person didn’t turn out any better. This was the “same song and dance” that we left. Around this time, that man got into some serious trouble and the girls and I went to live with a friend. At this point, I was fired from my job because my home life was a mess. Feeling like I had exhausted all my resources and my girls weren’t in school yet, we moved back to Michigan. My family was here, and I wanted to make a home and establish roots of our own. After a week of staying with family, we went to one of the homeless shelters in Lansing for about a year. While there, I did some biblical counseling to get my head straight again and help process what I had been through. Then the opportunity came, and we were accepted into Loaves and Fishes Ministries transitional housing program at Zacchaeus House, where we were able to stay for 2 years. I still had some things to get a handle on and that was accomplished towards the end of our stay. I am forever grateful for the guidance and accountability that challenged me to grow to change into the mother I am today. I’m very thankful that my family was chosen and that we were able to participate in such a wonderful program. The lessons I learned while there showed me what needed attention in my life and how to make goals in accomplishing them. I will take those lessons with me and teach my children…as I’m the most important teacher in their lives. We now have a place of our own and my kids are doing well in school. I am seeing someone who is a good man. I don’t worry about my kids not having a father as I allow my church to fill that void as best as it’s going to get filled – there they are surrounded by good, godly men. We live one day at a time.♥

“Mark’s” Story: To put things into perspective, I am a 40-year-old white male, heterosexual, no children, never married and grew up in East Lansing, in a middle to upper-class family. I first sought shelter and food following a collapse in my life, culminating from a 20-year bout with alcoholism. No job, no food, no shelter, limited family ties – just a desire to drink and stay warm. I only had ‘street’ knowledge and the clothes on my back. Some of the street knowledge that I picked up along the way taught me where to get food – generally from garbage cans and dumpsters at local restaurants. I sought shelter, in closed buildings on the MSU campus in stairwells and elevators. Warmer weather allowed me to stay outdoors, usually along the River Walk, in the woods with other homeless people. A typical homeless day started with a need to use the bathroom and drink water. Locating a restaurant or gas station would take care of both of those needs and next the alcohol. Thirty-five returnable cans would get me started with a pint of Vodka…and then another pint…(often only) to wake up the next day in jail or in the hospital, covered with bruises and with soiled clothes, with no clue of what had happened. Those typical street days would turn into weeks, then to months and then into years. With God’s guidance and with people willing to help me I was able to get off the streets. Without first ‘getting off the bottle,’ I knew there was little chance of getting back on my feet. I attended AA meetings. It was at the East Club where I first learned about Loaves and Fishes Ministries. Thanks to the staff, volunteers, and food providers I was able to get into a daily routine that has allowed me to continue daily meetings at AA, pursue employment, eat healthy meals, access local and state resources and once again smile and truly enjoy life and help others.♥

“John’s” Gratitude Letter: I want to take this time to thank you for the opportunity you’ve given me to be a resident at Luke’s House. It has been a life saver. Luke’s House not only gave me a residence, but it provided me help and a place to plant my feet to be able to start to turn things around in my life. You also gave me so much help that I’ll never be able to repay. I first heard of Luke’s House when I was writing an essay for an Honor’s program I was in while working on my associate’s degree at LCC back in 1991. I then came on as a volunteer and did so off and on until about 3 years ago. I was evicted from my apartment in 2010 and was staying with friends and family sleeping on their couches until it interfered in my family’s schedules. I called Loaves and Fishes and was able to get a bed within 3 days. I had a rough plan of what I needed to do to get things in my life turned around. I was referred to Advent House to talk with James Mowry (an attorney who works with the poor), who took me on as a client. I wasn’t sure where I was headed, but tried to get in the mindset that it may be the Lansing City Rescue Mission. About 2 weeks into my stay at Loaves and Fishes, Bombi and I had talked about Luke’s House. I was working for Hampton Jewelers as an advertising driver and found a room to rent for $525 a month. I wanted to get on my own, but something didn’t feel right. I had a savings of about $800 from staying at the shelter. I put a deposit down. Then one night I came back to the shelter and told the guys about it and one commented that he didn’t think I was ready, and I felt relief in agreeing with him. So, I asked Bombi if I could throw my hat in to be considered for Luke’s House – and he said yes. Needless to say, at the disappointment of the room owner, I got my deposit back and upon approval was able to pay the *program fee 3 months in advance for Luke’s House. I say all this because the job I had been working ended up diminishing after the holidays…and if I hadn’t listened to the other resident at the shelter, I could have ended up in a worse place. Sometimes I think my Higher Power speaks through other people, and thankfully I listened. (*NOTE: Guests who stay 6 mos. to 2 yrs. are asked to pay a modest program fee, if they receive personal funds, to help teach budgeting and responsibility in preparation for living on their own.)

After I had gotten into Luke’s House, I started to do the things necessary to turn my life around and stay the course. Since I’ve gotten here, I have been able to establish a good solid income, get a new used car that I paid cash for, maintained steady fee payments, payoff some debts, and take a course on learning to be a private real estate investor which I am now studying for. My most recent accomplishment was the result of my taking action on my own with the IRS and their accepting an offer of $2,450.00 for a $50,000.00 debt. I just mailed in my final documents and am waiting for final approval from the IRS attorneys. This is so big!!! My next task will be to start working on getting my credit report taken care of. I was also able to re-establish payments on my student loans so they should soon reflect in good standing which will give me a cleaner credit report. Once the IRS receives final payment on my offer, this will also reflect in good standing which will bring my credit scores up and allow me to find housing with a better credit report.♥

♥.♥.♥

A message to our website visitors

It takes many loving hearts to do this inspiring work. So, we humbly ask that you consider donating to support our work (See “Donate” tab) OR consider joining our Volunteer Team (See “Jobs & Volunteers” tab).  To learn more about volunteering, contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 517-482-2099, or email [email protected]