There is an old saying, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” DeShay can attest to that. While she was trying to provide a good life for her family, she lost her Section 8 housing and was laid-off from her job. Welfare benefits did not cover rent for a place to live. She was struggling to find a solution. How could she provide for herself and her children? At that low point, DeShay believes, “God was at work in my coming to HEARTH.”
DeShay’s godfather had a chance conversation with a co-worker about HEARTH and he passed the information along to her, encouraging her to consider it as a possible solution. For a while DeShay resisted the advice. She did not see herself living at a location like Benedictine Place, but she finally made that initial call to gather information about the facility and the program. After conversations with the staff, she made the decision to move in with her children. It was one of the best decisions of her life.
One of DeShay’s driving life goals was to earn her college degree, but life circumstances kept putting barriers in her way. The HEARTH program gave her, “. . . two years to overcome those barriers. HEARTH allowed me to make school my primary focus.” Not only did the program provide the time, it also provided the support she needed to keep her focus on earning her degree.
“Everyone wanted to see me do better and that was not my life experience.” DeShay sees HEARTH’s emphasis on giving you a “hand-up” not a “hand-out” as one of the keys to her success. “I learned how a community can build you up.” DeShay saw that everyone: the staff, the volunteers, the North Hills community, and the sisters were vested in helping her succeed. The families at Benedictine Place bonded and helped each other work toward accomplishing their individual goals. She understands that HEARTH gives her the how to, she had to get it done on her own. All of this has changed her view of life.
DeShay has seen changes in her children. Before HEARTH the children were more about themselves. When they had the opportunity to see how others helped and supported their family, they became more appreciative. The children began to look for ways in which they could help others. DeShay has seen tremendous change within herself. She earned her college degree and is employed as a part of the legal system. She says, “I am now more patient and giving. I’m not so quick to judge others. I’m more open to people. I look to brighten others’ situations. I am more hopeful.”
Her advice to others who need help, “Always have faith – stay with it. Whatever I’ve gone through has made me the person I am.”
It is a powerful moment when you give someone the support and the chance to change.