I felt my 9-month unborn daughter kick inside my stomach while we were moving boxes from our home. Instead of being excited, I wanted to throw up. This was no longer an exciting time in my family’s lives where we were bringing a new baby into this world. In this world, our reality, my family was evicted from our 2-bedroom townhouse when the housing market skyrocketed, and we could no longer afford our rent. We’ve never had a lot, but we always had enough. This wasn’t the case anymore, we scrambled to find safe and affordable housing. Anything we could afford turned out too good to be true. Any family we tried to turn to only ended up pushing us away. There was no place to go except the shelters in our area, I could not have my babies on the street. I remember praying that my two girls wouldn’t remember this time in our lives; a time when mommy and daddy couldn’t give them a safe and stable home to grow in.

So shelter became the only option. This meant I had to go with my children to one shelter and my husband, Tom, went across the city to a men’s shelter. We were separated. A small town apart now felt like opposite ends of the earth when I was caring for two children by myself and missing my partner during the most uncertain time of my life. I kept thinking – What would I do if I had to deliver my baby by myself because Tom couldn’t stay with our family? How would Tom feel missing the birth of our baby? I knew this could only last a short period, because living separately and in an unstable environment with two little girls, just wasn’t working. With our children, and another on the way, there seemed like there was no hope. And I needed my husband.

Tom, in our desperate search for a better answer, came across the YW’s Emergency Family Shelter. The only shelter units of its kind in the area. A place where families can stay whole. Where women don’t have to separate from their partners and children don’t have to separate from their fathers. I contacted the shelter and our journey with the YWCA began. Sure, there was a certain relief felt when we arrived, but we were still scared and anxious from living in uncertainty for so long. We didn’t know what to expect and were tired of moving around so much. It made it worse when my 8-year-old daughter, Ashley, said she was nervous about another new home. I didn’t blame her; I was also sick of constantly being in fight-or-flight mode.

It didn’t take long after we moved in that I was finally able to exhale. I suffer from extreme anxiety and used to shut down as a way to cope. Finally, I was in a safe space where I felt supported enough to open up. It honestly felt like a weight was lifted off my chest and I was able to breathe again. I allowed myself to feel a shred of excitement… I was so wrapped up in the fight I didn’t realize I only had a week or two left of being pregnant. We were going to have a baby, we were going to be together, and we were going to be safe and stable once again.

My daughter was 6.2lbs- 16.1 in when she finally came, and Tom was able to cut her umbilical cord. I am so thankful to the YW for bringing my family together. After being in the shelter for 4 months, we received life-changing news. Our YW social worker located an affordable rental for us! Slowly things are starting to fall into place. We no longer have that underlying worry of never owning a home again because we were moving in in a few days! We’re getting our lives back. Back to a place where we don’t have to worry so much and can focus on what matters most – our family. Finally.

We are grateful to Sophia, Tom, and Ashley for sharing their story with us, with you. Sophia was one of the first 9-month pregnant women in our family shelter at Oakdale Commons. It broke my heart to hear that she went through such a rough time, especially during late stages of pregnancy, being separated from her partner. We are in awe of their determination to find a better solution which brought them to the YW. Your support has kept this family together during a hard time. Your support has given them -Sophia, Tom, and Ashley – hope.

Your gift can be the difference between families being separated or being united during a time of crisis.

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