At 16, Tabitha met a guy at the Wendy’s where she was working. He introduced her to meth. She loved the high and she used a lot through high school. She became pregnant at 19, stopped using during her pregnancy, but started back in order to lose weight. At 20, she discovered using meth intravenously would get her higher quicker, and so she began a trip to the bottom. She found heroin, and she found herself homeless. She moved from couch to couch in Arkansas, but when she moved to San Francisco, she slept outside, in cardboard boxes, in alleys, and in jail. She did get sentenced to rehab in Fresno, but she relapsed.
She eventually returned to Arkansas and landed in drug court. “They didn’t have to give me another change, but they did.” Tabitha managed by eating at the Next Step Dayroom and getting help from local churches, Community Clearing House, DHS, and the Salvation Army.
She gained employment cleaning houses, and things were going well until she missed one of her drug court appointments. “I was angry they sent me back for treatment,” she explained. But she is grateful for the experience. She got clean and started rebuilding her life. Today, Tabitha works as a counselor at Gateway House helping women get free from the type of life she broke free from. “I remember feeling hopeless and thinking this was the way my life was going to be, so why even try.” Now she spends her days helping others find hope.
A client like Tabitha would be better served at the Riverview Hope Campus because all of the services she used to get back on her feet would be under one roof.
Lucky lived without a home for some 15 years. The last 10 were here in Fort Smith where he lived with many others on the river. His homelessness wasn’t his choice. He developed an illness that made working difficult, and eventually impossible. He was used to hard work and had held construction jobs. He had not other skills, and was eventually was forced to live on the streets,
The people at Next Step dayroom helped him get help. A couple at the Arkansas Dream Center helped him apply for Social Security, and someone at Crawford Sebastian Community Development helped him get into a home for the first time in 15 years. Lucky said it was difficult at first to get used to sleeping inside. Lucky said, “A lot of people are a little cynical about homeless people. They try to characterize, um, pigeon hole us. They think we’re stupid people. But there are a lot of us who don’t do drugs, never hurt anybody, don’t do anything (like that).”
Lucky found hope with the help of agencies, but he credits the people who worked there as making the difference for him. He is grateful for the people who work in the community to serve the homeless and less fortunate. A place like Riverview Hope Campus would allow us to reach even more people like Lucky and help them get back on their feet.
Mike and Karen’s Story
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that we would have never thought was possible, but with faith and support we can rise above what brought us down and emerge with more than we thought we could. This is the story of how Mike and Karen found more than self-sufficiency at HOPE Campus.
When the doors of HOPE Campus opened on September 29, 2017, Mike B was among the first residents, arriving on the first of October. He had been on the street since 2011. Mike spent most of his time in the library, reading and keeping it clean; he had no idea how much the library would change his life. Three months after arriving at HOPE Campus, a woman walked into the library and into Mike’s life.
Karen found herself at HOPE Campus after losing everything that she had with no place to go. She arrived at HOPE Campus on January 22, 2018 and that last thing that she had her mind was meeting a man. Karen’s last husband was verbally and emotionally abusive so understandably, she was skeptical of any man. Like Mike, Karen enjoyed the library and spent quite a lot of time there. When Karen met Mike, there were several things that she liked about him; his intelligence, his big heart and his faith in God. Her interest in the library became less about the books and more about Mike, but because of her past, she was vigilant for signs that Mike was like the cold, callous man that she was with previously. Would his demeanor and the way that he treated her change? Is this an act to cover his true intentions? These are the thoughts of every victim of domestic abuse.
After five months, a friend of Mike’s asked him if he was interested in any of the ladies at HOPE Campus. He replied, “Well, if I had to choose, it would be Karen”. Thinking that this was just idle conversation between friends, Mike did not give it a second thought. Little did he know, his friend was playing matchmaker. The friend told Karen what Mike had said and the seeds of love were planted. In May, they started spending more time together with Mike inviting Karen to his church, introducing her to his pastor and slowly gained her trust and showed her what it was like to be loved and cherished. At the end of May, Mike asked Karen to be his wife. Karen accepted, saying “God made me trust a man again and gave me the strength to love”. They were married in September at HOPE Campus with Dewayne, who is not just an intake coordinator but an ordained minister, officiating. Mike and Karen have successfully transitioned into self-sufficiency and have grown their family with the addition of a sweet, lovable puppy.
In one year, the lives of these two individuals were changed forever and they found more than HOPE, they found a new life; one with love, companionship and faith renewed.
Amber and Johanne’s Story
Amber W. and Johanne T., both arrived at the HOPE Campus on December 3, 2018. When they arrived at HOPE Campus, Amber was working at a local agency and her fiancée had just started a job working for OK Foods. Amber is a 25 year old female, who moved with her fiancée, Johannes from Texas. When they arrived at the HOPE Campus, they were very eager to meet with their case manager to discuss their needs. Upon meeting the young couple, their case manager realized they had the motivation to begin their own program to help them meet their needs to move into their own place. Johannes was waiting on his job to begin at the time of their first meeting, he was eager to follow his own program to help him and his fiancée to hurry and get their own place. This young couple had completed all requirements that their case manager had asked of them within a couple of hours. They appeared to be excited to be able to complete their tasks in a timely manner and even days before they were due to be completed. Their case manager informed them of a program provided by the CSCDC to help the homeless population to be able to get a place of their own. When they became informed of the program, they were excited to do whatever they could to get their own house quickly. They met with the coordinator of the CSCDC and received a voucher to get an apartment. Once they received their voucher they were able to find a place and moved into their own apartment 10 days after moving into the Hope campus. At this time of update, Amber is still working at her job and Johannes has currently moved to a different position within his company. He is working a couple of blocks of the HOPE Campus; he returns a couple of times a week to eat dinner and to visit with his case manager.