My letter to you.
Losing my home was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. It happened so fast and yet when I look back, it’s as though it’s replaying in slow motion.
I had a good life –a good family, with two amazing children – a boy and a girl and a husband who made me feel like the most special person in the world. He was my light. I had a part-time job while the kids were at school. My life was fulfilled.
And then I lost my husband unexpectedly. To say I was devastated is an understatement. My whole world shattered around me. I didn’t realize it right away but in that moment, I lost everything, except thankfully my kids.
But I knew I had to keep it together for my children, so I did my absolute best to make sure they got to school on time and I worked as much as I could during their school hours. But quickly I began losing the house, I couldn’t make the mortgage payments with my sole salary and unfortunately as you know, affordable housing is hard to find in our community. I sold everything I could to keep us afloat but my job – even with the added hours I begged for – wasn’t enough.
We lost our home due to foreclosure and it was like I was losing everything all over again. My car payments were more important than trying to pay my incredibly high mortgage payments. I had to make sure I could get my kids to school and get to my job. And do all of the things a single mother needs to do like making sure they had something to eat. All of that was my priority. My son, at 8 years old was asking what foreclosure meant. He shouldn’t even know that word! It broke my heart to tell him we didn’t have a home anymore. At least not this home. I struggled to find something I could afford in enough time. But that was impossible.
We began sleeping out of my car. Thank goodness, it was summer. I can’t even imagine what I would’ve done if it was a night like the ones we’ve been having.
The first night, my son, said, “Cool mom. It’s like camping in a car! I could stay here forever.”
I was glad he was in the backseat so he couldn’t see the tears streaming down my face. “Yeah, baby, it’s just like camping.” He at least made his sister feel better by starting pillow fights every time she cried, scared.
I didn’t want to tell anyone I’d lost my house. It was embarrassing. I’d figure it out. I’d find a way to get out of this situation.
It took three days until my daughter, while sucking on her thumb asked, “Mommy, when can we go home?”
What was I supposed to say? Never – and break her heart? Or Lie and say ‘soon, baby, soon.’ Could I pretend I was sleeping and just say nothing at all? Instead of tackling it at all, I distracted both of them with a deck of cards I was happy I’d grabbed from the house. At least they had some entertainment. My heart was breaking.
I can’t tell you just how scary it is, trying to sleep with your two babies in the backseat of the car. I hope none of you ever have to face that. I hope no one ever does. Let’s just say, I don’t think I slept for the three weeks we spent in my car before I learned of the YWCA’s West Niagara Affordable Housing program,
When Cheryl, the transitional housing worker accepted me into the program, it was the start of a brand new life. I didn’t care what place she could get me, as long as my kids and I got to stop living – if you can even call it that – out of my car.
It took no time to get into our new home. Cheryl provided me with all of the supports I needed and could ever want. Thankfully the program is 3 years because that has given me enough time to go through school and become an executive assistant. The programming that they offer helped me and my kids get back on our feet after losing their father and their home.
This program has changed my life and saved me from the fear I had that I’d never sleep again.
My daughter asks weekly if Cheryl will come over, I think she made a friend. And my son, he loves having his friends come over for sleepovers because he actually has a place to have them. Unlike the car where it was completely filled with everything we could fit from our house.
I will be forever grateful for Cheryl and all of the staff at the YW. And the best part is, I know they will always be there for me if I need it. When Cheryl told me about the Coldest Night of the Year West Niagara walk, I can’t deny that I immediately said I don’t want to speak in front of you. I don’t want you to see me in the grocery store and think of me as “that client.” But I do want you to know that you supporting the walk means everything to me. The YW’s West Niagara Affordable Housing program has changed my life but more importantly has changed my children’s lives. I will never be able to thank you enough. You are making a difference in our lives and I’m so very thankful.
Thank you for caring,
There’s still time to register or donate and help people like Cindy in our West Niagara Affordable Housing program! Join us: https://cnoy.org/location/westniagara
We are still accepting donations for our Coldest Night of the Year event until the end of March. Your money stays here in West Niagara and supports community members such as Cindy and her children here in Beamsville, Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln.