I wasn't like most girls growing up . . . I wasn't dreaming about prince charming or thinking of getting married, because, to be honest, I thought I never would. But at 17 I became pregnant, and I wanted my son to have a stable, two-parent home - so I got married.
I thought we would have the American Dream - the house, two cars, children, even a dog! And for awhile we did. For many years my family lived happily, and it seemed like it would last forever. My husband and I talked about watching our grandchildren play in the front yard as we rocked in our rocking chairs on the front porch. We had four beautiful children, and I put all my hopes and dreams into my family. One day, 14 years later, I woke up to find that things had changed.
On our 14th anniversary I found out my husband was having an affair, and was engaged to be married to another woman. What had gone wrong? For 14 years I had defined myself as a wife and mother - I found myself questioning my very existence.
When I filed for divorce, I had no idea that asserting my independence would become a nightmare. My husband drained our bank account and stopped paying the mortgage and car note. He wouldn't give me any money, not even for food or bills. One night in February it was 20 degrees outside, and my four children and I huddled in one room with a space heater as our only heat.
I had to keep a brave face for my children. I would tell them that everything was going to be fine and we would make it through this storm. But how could they believe me, when I didn't believe it myself? A month later, our house went into foreclosure, and my family became homeless.
I had nowhere to go and desperately needed help. A friend recommended I apply to Partners In Housing, and I will forever be grateful - they gave me a chance when I had lost all hope.
PIH didn't just give me a place to stay - they empowered me to change my life! When you walk through their doors, you're not judged on your past, but encouraged to look to the future. They give you the tools to create a better life.
With the support of PIH I have a stable home again. I'm able to work and go to school, and provide a better life for my family. I'm learning to replace the words "can't" and "if", with "will" and "when".
My plan for the future is to continue my education, so that I can provide a better life for my family. I want to show my children that no matter what happens in life, you're not defeated until you give up and stop trying. Partners in Housing has given me hope for the future. There's one dream that will forever remain the same, and I know now it will come true: watching my grandchildren play in the front yard of my house as I rock on the porch!
(Note: Name changed to protect confidentiality).