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Strong community partnerships are key to moving women and children out of poverty. This month we celebrate the partnership between the Center for Transforming Lives and our partner in poverty reduction, The Salvation Army Mabee Center.

The Salvation Army has worked on a global scale to alleviate poverty for more than 150 years. Here in Tarrant County, The Salvation Army operates facilities in Arlington and Fort Worth that offer a wide variety of services, including homeless shelter, disaster recovery, counseling, after-school programming and addiction services.

Along with us, The Salvation Army staff and leadership recently recognized a growing need for emergency shelter for children and families in Tarrant County. About the same time, the agency realized that the homeless shelters they operate for single men were not at capacity most nights. Families were being turned away, but empty beds were available in the shelter for single individuals. Working with the other homeless service providers in the community, The Salvation Army staff determined that the single men staying at The Salvation Army could easily be accommodated at other local shelters.

In September 2017, The Salvation Army converted all of their single emergency shelter space to family shelter. The Salvation Army quickly became the primary point-of-entry for women and families with minor children seeking homeless services in Tarrant County, filling a vital role for families in crisis and operating at full capacity almost every night.

We value our partnership with The Salvation Army and appreciate their leadership in serving families with children experiencing homelessness.

 

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives as part of the Hidden Homeless initiative to raise awareness of local issues surrounding our community and its members. For more information please visit http://bit.ly/2Ea7AmD

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Carol Klocek, CEO of the Center for Transforming Lives, recently had an opportunity to help plan the Region 6 Forum on Family Homelessness in Dallas and speak on a panel about family homelessness. Hosted by the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the forum was designed to address the growing reality in our community and in our country.

On the panel with Carol was Annie, a courageous young mother who told her story of waiting to get into a homeless shelter more than two years ago after her infant son was discharged from a neonatal intensive care unit. They were first told that they did not “look homeless” and were turned away. After living in a tent behind a hotel for a time, Annie returned and was put on a waiting list. Every Friday she called to see if a spot had opened for her and her newborn. After three long, frightening months of living in a tent, being helped by other homeless strangers, they were admitted to a shelter. And their lives began to change.

With braces, nervous giggles and tears, this young woman told her story. She is proud of how far she has come and knows their future holds more struggle and difficulty, but she describes herself as determined. She told the guests at the forum, “Don’t give up on us…don’t give up on me.” And we have not. Her infant is currently enrolled in Early Head Start through the Center for Transforming Lives, which has allowed her the flexibility to get a job. Through the shelter services she received with a partner agency, she was able to gain entry to their Rapid Rehousing program, which will provide rental assistance for up to one year while works to get on her feet. 

While Annie’s story has a good ending, we must continue to work to advocate for children and families like hers. Life as a single mother with a newborn is tough enough; living in a tent for three months to survive should not be part of the equation.

*Please note that the names in this story have been changed 

 

 

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives as part of the Hidden Homeless initiative to raise awareness of local issues surrounding our community and its members. For more information please visit http://bit.ly/2Ea7AmD

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Part 3 – Christy

Christy was raised in an abusive home and cycled in and out of the foster care system. For most of her childhood, she was never shown love by her family. As an adult, she entered into an abusive relationship that left her homeless and living in her car with nowhere to turn. Her housing instability resulted in her children being removed by Child Protective Services.

Undeterred, Christy wanted a better life for her children. She was referred to the Center for Transforming Lives Rapid Rehousing Program. Christy overcame the obstacles of poverty by utilizing resources offered by the Center such as Financial Empowerment and Child Violence and Trauma Intervention Therapy. She worked hard to make sure she had a safe home for her children, and developed better parenting skills to become more loving and caring.

Since then, Christy and her family moved into their own home, and is working, and becoming more independent each day. The Center for Transforming Lives has been instrumental in making it possible for Christy and her family to experience safety, security, and belonging – in their own home.

 

If you are not ready to donate but would like to learn more about the Center for Transforming Lives, please visit http://bit.ly/2Ea7AmD

Disclaimer: This post and series is brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives as part of the Hidden Homeless initiative to raise awareness of local issues surrounding our community and its members. 

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Part 2 - Shafeeqa

Shafeeqa had a six-?gure income and was thriving. 

Then she got sick. Very, very sick. In and out of health-cares, she lost her job, savings, and ?nancial security. With a young child, she had no other option than to keep going. Following her passion for food and desire for healing, she began cooking, resulting in the creation of PlantChicks.

?Lingering medical debt on her credit prevented her from receiving traditional lending, so Shafeeqa applied for the Individual Development Account (IDA) program offered by the Center for Transforming Lives. She joined a local co-op with other several small businesses to share a kitchen and used the IDA program funding to continue pursuing her dream.

CTL has helped Shafeeqa learn to balance the needs of her business with her commitment to health and family. Her ?nancial coaches hold her accountable and offer tools that have set her up for success. You can taste the success for yourself - PlantChicks has provided your plant-based dessert today!

 

If you are not ready to donate but would like to learn more about the Center for Transforming Lives, please visit http://bit.ly/2Ea7AmD

 

Disclaimer: This post and series is brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives as part of the Hidden Homeless initiative to raise awareness of local issues surrounding our community and its members. 

 

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Part 1: Veronica

This series, brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives, will share highly profound transformative stories of local women and children who have truly embodied the transition from poverty to possibility.

 

Part 1- Veronica

Alone with a baby, Veronica wasn’t sure where to turn. She desperately needed a job to provide for her daughter, but didn’t have anyone to watch sweet Vivian while she worked.

Then she learned about the Center for Transforming Lives and scheduled a tour of the Arlington Child Development Center. She immediately felt comfortable with the warm and welcoming staff, and she noticed the rooms were filled with natural light, learning centers, art projects, and books. The curriculum was award-winning and the teachers were all highly trained. 

Best of all, a sliding payment scale was available for those who need it. Veronica wouldn’t have to spend nearly her entire paycheck on child care – she would have money left over for groceries and rent. Once Vivian was enrolled, it wasn’t long until Veronica knew she had made the right decision. Vivian quickly became attached to her teachers. So did Veronica! The teachers not only took wonderful care of her daughter, but also provided support to Veronica as a first-time mom. They taught Veronica how to help wean Vivian off her pacifier and they helped with potty-training. The teachers scheduled regular meetings with Veronica to discuss Vivian’s development, keep her informed of her progress, and talk about techniques to use at home to enhance her learning.  Veronica was impressed with Vivian’s development and couldn’t believe how fast her child’s vocabulary was growing.

In a recent visit, Vivian – now 5 years old – commented that markers are her favorite art tool and she loves to draw. “I’m an artist,” she said proudly.  She also shared, “I have lots of favorite friends here” and in Miss Sasha’s classroom “I felt like I was home.” 

Stories like Vivian’s play out at the Center for Transforming Lives child development centers every day.Some of the children face tougher issues than being in a low-income family.

Some of the children are homeless. 

A small bus or van picks them up at a local homeless shelter each morning and takes them back at the end of the school day.Many struggle with physical and emotional developmental delays due to trauma they have experienced. All receive the love, care, and individualized support they need to learn and grow, enabling them to be ready for kindergarten when the time comes. 

This kind of transformative care is only possible with the help of generous supporters like you. Will you give today to help a young child learn tomorrow and be successful in the future?  Your generosity can change a child’s life and transform their future.Thank you for joining us in transforming lives! 

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https://www.transforminglives.org/donate


If you are not ready to donate but would like to learn more about the Center for Transforming Lives, please visit http://bit.ly/2Ea7AmD

 

Disclaimer: This post and series is brought to you by the Center for Transforming Lives as part of the Hidden Homeless initiative to raise awareness of local issues surrounding our community and its members. 

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We do not see them camping under bridges, so we assume they do not exist. Children, the hidden homeless, live in a shadow world of insecurity and stress - sleeping in the back seat of cars, piled four or five to a bed in a run-down motel, or even on the floor of a relative’s home.

Desperate to keep them safe and united as a family, mothers call on every friend and family member they know for help. Due to the fear that shelters are unsafe for their kids, many mothers report they would rather sleep in their cars.

In addition to this report, CTL is leading transformative change in Tarrant County a number of ways. CTL spearheads improvements to the homeless service system by working alongside agencies such as Tarrant County Homeless Coalition and area shelters. In addition, we are planning a project that will integrate safe housing as well as affordable childcare, employment and transportation.CTL is also working with policy partners such as the Administration for Children and Families to engage education systems to better meet the needs of children and families.

We are proud to help transform lives. This effort has taken us out of our comfort zone and pushed the boundaries of our transformation work. But we realized – sometimes you have to go big so kids can go home. 

 

Some of the key points include:

 

  • An estimated 14,981 children experience homelessness each year in Tarrant County

  • All forms of homelessness for children cause trauma, impacting their developing brains as well as physical and emotional health.

  • The lack of affordable housing and childcare, along with limited education and employment opportunities only serve to grow this problem.

  • The current homeless service system is not equipped to handle the realities of homeless children.