Tracey’s Story

Tracey came to HEARTH after battling harassment at work which ended, in her eyes, her “perfect life”, resulting in homelessness. After dealing with the death of her mother and her divorce, Tracey and her daughters sought a fresh start and left Pittsburgh for Virginia. For the first time, she was on her own, without a safety net of family and friends.

Everything fell into place for Tracey and seemed perfect – house, neighborhood and school district. She even found a perfect job as a medical assistant but was offered a more perfect job with a national insurance company and was promoted in the first six months. Everything was perfect.

But soon it all began to fall apart . . . she began receiving strange emails at work which knew too much information about her home, work and children.

Tracey sought help from work and received none. Then she sought help from the police and still didn’t get any. The emails continued, arriving multiple times a day, referring to places she had been, food she purchased, conversations she had, clothing her children wore. Tracy didn’t feel she or her children were safe anywhere.

As the intensity of the harassment increased, Tracy repeatedly asked for intervention at work. She received no support. Dreading opening up her computer and fearing for herself and her family, Tracey stopped going out, refused to go to work, got fired from her job, and tapped into her life savings in order to pay her bills.

Almost out of money, Tracey and her girls went back to Pittsburgh, broken and tattered, leaving all of their belongings in Virginia. Back in Pittsburgh she stayed with her sister for awhile, but soon moved to a shelter. With a limit of 45 days and no money, Tracy needed to find a job soon. She went back to her sister with a list of referrals from the shelter. An unsuccessful job search brought Tracey to the realization that in order to succeed she needed a degree. But how would she get that degree with no home and no money?

Then Tracey found HEARTH, located in the North Hills which offered a good school district for her girls, safe area for her family and a means of educating herself to get that degree she needed.

A housing program had not been the answer Tracy was looking for. But, knowing that her girls were watching and that she needed to be an example for them, Tracey picked up the phone and called HEARTH.

That December, Tracey and her girls moved into HEARTH. When she walked into her “condo” as she called it, for the first time, she was overwhelmed by the Holiday Spirit. There were boxes of gifts everywhere and a tree that was decorated, could it be that they would actually be safe and have a Christmas after all . . . ????

HEARTH has provided Tracey the opportunity to, “catch her breath.” She is enrolled at the Community College of Allegheny County and will graduate in the spring of 2011 with an Associate’s Degree in Legal Administration. HEARTH has given Tracey the courage and knowledge to rebuild her life.

Tracy is only one of the women that is helped at HEARTH every year. Through the thousands of hours of support and guidance that these families receive from staff and volunteers, more than 556 women and children have been helped in the last 15 years.