Just when Jenna was about to give up, she found the Delta Welcome Center. What happened there would change her life.
For many, quarantining at home during the COVID-19 crisis has been difficult. We miss socializing with big groups of friends, going to church gatherings, and traveling to see our friends and families.
However, for anyone experiencing homelessness, the pandemic has brought on a whole new wave of challenges, fear, and confusion.
Thankfully, many cities have been setting up temporary shelters to house people experiencing homelessness. In El Paso, Endeavors has been able to assist in creating and staffing two temporary shelters: The Delta Welcome Center and the Delta Haven.
Our experiences here have been incredibly rewarding. We have met so many amazing people who are fighting to get back on their feet. However, one of these stories stands out above the rest.
On the very first day The Delta Welcome Center opened, we met Jenna and her family. Over the next several months, they would grow to become some of our most cherished friends. After Jenna and her family moved out of the shelter to begin their new life, we received this letter.
In her own words, this is how Jenna’s life changed over the course of just a few months.
“It felt like hope was gone.”
My name is Jenna, and this is my story of how the Delta Welcome Center staff saved me and my children.
I am originally from San Diego, CA where my four kids and I have been homeless for more than two years. We had no hope and no help, so I decided to head to El Paso, TX where my brother is stationed in the Army. We stayed with him for one week before his PTSD became too much. He threw us out on the street again. We had a rental car with half a tank of gas, no money, and not a single friend.
My will to keep going was disappearing quickly. I remember pulling over on the side of the road, looking at my kids, and crying. I felt like the most horrible person in the world. I had tried so hard to give my kids a better life, but now we were back to square one in a place where we had no support.
I convinced my brother to get us a hotel room for the night so I could try and figure something out. The next morning, I woke up early, got my kids ready, and called 2-1-1. They said a brand new homeless shelter had just opened up that day. It was called the Delta Welcome Center.
“It felt like another chance.”
I drove over there, terrified and not sure what to expect. I felt broken and lost. There wasn’t an ounce of hope left inside me as I walked my kids and our dog Coco through the doors of the Delta Welcome Center.
I was sure we would be turned away as soon as they saw Coco. That’s how it’s always worked for us. But she is a special part of our family and my daughter’s emotional support dog, and I couldn’t just get rid of her. But that’s not what happened. This time, the staff and director were standing in the lobby as we entered the building. They all were so welcoming to us all, even Coco! They reassured me that they understood my situation and would do any and everything possible to help me find my way again.
We were their very first clients that day. They walked us to the family section, showed us our bed, provided us with hygiene supplies, and explained to us that if we needed anything, they would find a way to get it. They did little things to make us feel even comfier. But to us, these things were huge and life-changing— bringing Coco her own bed and doggy treats, fixing my flat tire, buying us pillows, buying chicken nuggets for the kids when the meal served was too spicy, throwing my son a birthday party, and saying kind words to us.
That morning, I had been in a really dark place inside. But the staff in this shelter quite literally saved my life that day.
“We found a new family.”
Everyone treated us like we mattered. They opened their arms to us like family. I saw the joy come back into my children, and I began to feel hopeful. It made me decide something new: if strangers are willing to fight this hard for me, then I can fight this hard for myself. My will to go on was back and stronger than ever. I decided that if these strangers could have so much faith in me, then I would at the very least show my thanks to them by being successful in everything I do.
My last day there, they gave me flowers in a pot that they all signed. They said they know that very soon I would have my own place to grow them. Today, about 2 months later, I drove back to the Delta Center to let them know that I have been keeping that promise. I have a full-time job for the first time in 11 years. I have a 2 bedroom apartment that is a home for my family for the first time in almost 3 years. My children are all attending school (which they had not in at least 8 months).
Because of the kind hearts and determination of the Delta Center staff to help us to accomplish something better for ourselves and our families, I can for the first time in my 34 years of life say that I am proud to be me. I know that no matter what my head says, I can do anything.
I was their very first client with a horrible background, and they provided me with the knowledge and tools to move forward in life. All that to say: if I can do it, then no doubt so can you!
Here is a huge thanks for saving my family. I am proud to share my story so that the world knows the incredible efforts that the staff of the Delta Welcome Center is doing to change one family’s life at a time, even during a pandemic.
How does Endeavors® help people experiencing homelessness?
By providing valuable tools and resources like case management, professional counseling, life skills training, and employment opportunities, the Fairweather Family Lodge (specifically for women and children) and the Fairweather Lodge (specifically for men) hope to provide a safe, healthy, stable, and caring environment where individuals and families experiencing homelessness can get back on their feet.
Over the last 15 years, the Fairweather Family Lodge program has served over 250 families, or close to 800 individuals. Endeavors® is aiming to expand this program in order to provide these critical services to more homeless families in San Antonio.
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.