Janice never expected to have nowhere to go. She never expected to find herself getting off a Greyhound bus in Raleigh, North Carolina, seeking shelter.
Earlier this year, she’d planned to relocate to Charlotte, but things changed. She lost her home and a good job in South Carolina. She was once a certified phlebotomist. She’s also a mother and a grandmother. When she arrived in Raleigh, she headed for the Helen Wright Center for Women on West Cabarrus Street.
“This wasn’t me,” she says. Janice had never experienced homelessness before and says living in a shelter was difficult at first but that she was taken care of at Helen Wright Center. “They give you everything you need here. They gave me a shower, a bed, clothes, soap, shampoo and conditioner.” Those were things Janice hadn’t imagined she’d have to ask of someone else.
She tells us that one day just before her initial 14-day stay at Helen Wright was ending, she said, “God, I can’t do this. And he said, ‘Yes you can. You have to.’” She got an extension to stay and then was accepted into the case management program.
Janice says the other women whom she felt she was helping and who were helping her, made her realize it was the right thing to do. She says she met a Wake County teacher who didn’t have anywhere to live and a woman who’d been evicted over $96.00 owed. Janice says she talked to the women at the shelter, ate meals and watched TV with them.
“I met some amazing people here at Helen Wright. It’s one big community here.” Some of the women at the Center became her friends. Janice also raves about the shelter’s staff members and Crisis Program Director, Lisa Williams, unable to talk about them without tears in her eyes.
Janice was able to get work and a new place to live. “I told my former case manager I wanted my own key to my own door.” Something most of us take for granted, Janice has now – thanks to her own hard work and completion of the program at Helen Wright. She has high hopes for the future and plans to stay in Raleigh.
“I feel good about where I am today. This is home. I want to give back, not just to the women, but to the community.” She says she wants to be able to bring in meals for the women, just like volunteers do every day at the shelter.
When asked what advice she would give someone else in her situation, she says, “If I can go to Helen Wright and make it out – anybody can do it!”
Urban Ministries of Wake County has secured funding to immediately add 26 beds in our current location and also for the new 73-bed center that is expected to be finished before the fall of 2020. This will greatly help bridge the gap for the more than 800 single women who experience homelessness each year in Wake County. Meals are provided every day by volunteer groups, congregations, civic groups and individuals. If you are interested in providing meals or other assistance to these women, please contact Lisa Jones, 919-256-2181, firstname.lastname@example.org.