Sloan Angels Resident and Angel Stories
Holiday Magic at Sloan House
2016 ended in a swarm of love and appreciation at Sloan House Women's Transitional Shelter. A call went out to the many angels that wait to hear of items needed by the more than 22 women and children residing at this unique facility. That call made Christmas for everyone in the home.
Gift cards, and small presents filled the festive stockings of every person at Sloan House and the outpouring of appreciation will last a lifetime. Please take the time to read through the notes from the residents to the collective of wonderful people affectionately known as The Sloan Angels.
Click here to view photos.
I am a sixty year old woman, who has lived in Santa Rosa since 1957. I raised two daughters on my own. I have always worked and been very independent.
In December of 2009, I got very sick and was hospitalized for a few weeks. When I got out of the hospital, I found myself penniless because my unemployment benefits were discontinued. I was evicted from my home, had no money, no health care and still very weak and sick.
I went to Social Services for some help, they gave me the phone number to the Sloan Shelter. I contacted Sloan and they told me to call everyday for a week and I would be placed on the wait list. It was not very long until they called me with a bed available. I moved into the shelter in March of 2009. I was there for about three months. The staff helped me get my SSDI and housing at Interfaith Shelter Network.
I stayed at Interfaith for two years, and was the house monitor. I When my time was up at Interfaith, I moved in with my sister. I was working a couple of hours a day 4-5 days a week but I felt stuck. I moved back to Santa Rosa to live with my daughter, still I was not moving forward. So I tried moving in with my other daughter, I stayed there for about 2 months still not making any progress in my life.
Then I remembered how the Sloan House had helped me before, so I called them the beginning of the year in 2013. In February they had a bed for me. My goal was to get back to work and find permanent housing.
With the help of the Case management team I was able to find employment at TJ Maxx in Santa Rosa, I am working full time. I also was selected by The Housing Authority as a candidate for an on site housing voucher at a senior complex in Cloverdale. I am in the selection process right now, and have decided to stay with my daughter until the apartment becomes available.
Today I am healthy, happy and moving forward with my life. I want to thank you for the love, support, resources and guidance you have given me. I would not be where I am today if it had not been for the Sloan House. Sloan House gave me the opportunity to get my physical and mental health back on track. I am a better person today because of all of you, ( my sister told me this).
The experiences I have had over the last three and a half years has taught me so much, and the biggest thing is having faith in myself and keep moving forward.
Thank you all so very much
I never thought I would be homeless. That only happened to other people. So in December of 2008 I became homeless, along with my then 20 year old daughter and four dogs. I was lost. I thought, Wow this is really bad. People don't recover from this. And the worst part of all is I had no one to blame but myself. I had a problem with drugs. I quit after almost dying of congestive heart failure two years before. The doctors told me if I used drugs again it would kill me, so I just walked away from them and never looked back. I was suffering from severe depression. My weight was very high, my self esteem very low and my medical problems too numerous to list.
I was a displaced (divorced) housewife and my daughter was grown and I had no recent employment history was very rusty, outdated job skills. I also had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, except hide away from the world, afraid of interacting with people, or going places, even the grocery store. It was the lowest point in my life and not a good place to be.
We, my daughter and I, got help from a friend who worked at a homeless shelter in Petaluma. We moved back to Sonoma County from Oregon and started on the road to homelessness recovery.
I lost about 100 pounds and found a great health care provider in Annie Nicole who has been with me every step of the way on my healing, physically and mentally. I made some progress in the first two years of being homeless. Then I came to Sloan House in November of 2010.
I can't even write this part without crying. At Sloan house I found a place that felt like a home to me. A place where there was a caring, loving community of women that was delightful to be a part of. A place where I rediscovered the "me" I had always liked being and discovered the me I wanted to become.
I had only been there about three weeks when staff asked me to be the Resident Volunteer; apparently they saw in me what I had yet to see in myself. Being the "R.V." was challenging to me. I had to come out of my shell and be with the other women and staff and this was good. I found I was good at conflict management and organization of the domestic operation of the shelter. I also liked doing this. Working with this community to achieving our goals and breaking out of the homelessness cycle I had been caught in.
I returned to school, attending classes at the Junior College and finished by 6 units with a 3.5 grade point average. I tasted success and I wanted more. I had to leave Sloan as my time was up and went back to the shelter in Petaluma. There I spent 6 months dealing with my health issues and a disability claim but didn't make a whole lot of progress other than that.
I returned to Sloan House on December 23, 2011 and it again felt like I had come home. This time I was asked to be a Resident Volunteer again. This was a very comfortable fit now. I focused on reentering the job market, attended Coach to Careers and getting treated to a wardrobe spruce upon the completion. I also have registered to go back to the Junior College. I will be working toward by A.A. in Social and Behavioral Science.
I am moving in with my daughter who was also here at Sloan House a year ago. I am proud beyond words of her. She has really blossomed from the nurturing support she received here and has a job she loves in her chosen field working with kids at risk and is returning to school also. I also began repairing strained family ties with other members of my family. This too is very good.
All of these things I did for myself, but were made easier to accomplish because of the Sloan Staff and Sloan Angels. Life is good again and homelessness is not something you never recoup from. It's been a long and very trying and tiring road, but I can look back now and see what I was meant to learn from this life lesson.
I can't even imagine what life might have been like had I not come here. I wouldn't even want to try. I am so very appreciative for all the help I had along my path to recovery. I love you all so much and thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I vow to in turn to come back, as an Angel perhaps, and help others along their path to homelessness recovery. That is I believe, as it should be.
I began my journey into homelessness on October 9, 2011. I arrived in Santa Rosa, my hometown, in a driving rain. I had family here, but because I am an alcoholic (even with 75 days sober) they refused to take me into their homes. What they did do for me was introduce me to a place called the Living room. At the Living room, a woman named Celeste managed to get me to 600 Morgan St. and from there into Sam Jones Homeless Shelter. I was scared to death. Alone. Broke. Depressed, but SOBER. I had no knowledge of homeless people. Weren't they the dirty, smelly, people with overloaded shopping carts? How could I possibly be "homeless"? I was bewildered. I was also wrong.
Homelessness takes many forms and includes many people. Some, like me, are luckier than others. I paid attention, listened, observed, and learned. I met people I would never have met in my old life. I have friends and a new life.
From Sam Jones I was able to find a place in a very special shelter called Sloan House. More like a home than an institution. Thanks to the very special staff (Kathy, Bianca, and Pam) it is a home.my home and it will forever be a part of my life and my story.
It has not been an easy journey by any means. But with guidance, direction, love, understanding, and a lot of hard work, I now have a job and my own home.
But never will I forget the time spent searching for a place, a safe place, to sit and relax for a moment. The time between 10 am and 4pm when Sloan House closes and we homeless people are left to our own devices.
The library, the shopping mall, the parks (in good weather). I have spent much of my time in these places .
The endless job searches, the rejection. The wandering with a 15 lb. backpack, wondering if I'd ever be "normal" again. Just wanting a hot cup of tea, but not having the money. A sausage McMuffin at McDonalds. A slice of pizza.
But, I am one of the lucky ones.I got the message. Work hard. Pay attention. Ask for help. Help yourself. Stay sober. With the help of my Swan Angels, Kathy, Bianca, and Pam, I now have my own home. A job. My life back. And I will be forever grateful. Thank you. This is my story. Not the end, but the beginning.
Thanks to Sloan & the Sloan Angels I am sitting here this morning in my own little house because of all the love, support, and encouragement of their program and staff.
Last year, I became homeless, jobless, and penniless. While staying in another shelter I was able to secure a job and begin saving some money. But there was something missing, and that's where the Sloan House and staff came in.
Immediately after entering the home my life began to change. The love and encouragement from staff and the other women there helped me gain back the self-esteem and self-respect I had lost during those difficult times.
I learned I could trust other women, where I once thought I couldn't, and found that their love and encouragement was just what I needed. They helped me feel confident and grateful again.
While at Sloan, I also had a few health issues where I was hospitalized and upon returning, the staff and women were amazingly accommodating and helpful during my recovery. The women pulled together, offering more support and love than I ever imagined.
Also, as my confidence grew so did my "I can do it attitude". I was able to save quite a bit of money in a short amount of time. With help and encouragement from one of the staff at Sloan, I was able to secure a place to live. She went as far as calling my now landlord and setting up the meeting with him. I truly believe if she hadn't done this I wouldn't have done it alone. Thank you Sloan Staff for believing in me until I could believe in myself. But their love and support didn't stop there. I am sitting on furniture and enjoying T.V. provided by these "Angels". I could never show enough gratitude and appreciation for what they've done. Thank you and God Bless!
After losing her job in 2008, Kim became homeless. Staying at acouple of shelters, and being on a continuous job hunt, Kim was starting to feel hopeless. She began to believe that life would never get better for her and her family. Her two boys were temporarily living with her father in Lake County and she missed them badly. Then, in January 2011, her luck turned. She landed a full time job at a local company and by March she entered Sloan House Women's Shelter. Kim set herself a goal of having a home for her family before her six-month stay at Sloan House was over.
With the support of her case manager, Kim was able to set up a realistic budget and savings plan. She attended workshops offered at the shelter and met her personal monthly goals of saving, cleaning up her credit, and being prepared to enter the housing market. After completing the Community Action Partnership Rent-Up program, she was able to utilize the funding offered for her rental deposit. In September of 2011 Kim was settled in a two bedroom apartment in Santa Rosa. Her dream of having a job and safe place to live with her children had come true.
Stories like this give such a feeling of hope - the hope that we can help other families' dreams come true. It's only right that families should be together, under one roof - safe and thriving. It's what every mother wants and deserves. And you know, it is easy to make this dream happen. It only costs $25 per night to shelter a homeless woman at our Sloan House Women's Shelter. That's all it takes to create a future for families like Kim's.
"IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO BE ABLE TO SAY THE WORDS 'I AM HOMELESS' without bursting into tears.
I had worked in the Silicon Valley corporate offices of biotech and software startups for the last 17 years and I was looking forward to semi-retirement away from the rat race. I was a single professional woman and used to supporting myself. I moved to Boise, ID in 2007 and was able to purchase a very nice home within my budget. I spent time and money making upgrades.
Also, I intended to work but I fell ill with depression and fibromyalgia which was diagnosed by several trips to the doctor. Two close family members had passed away in 2006 and I had not given myself time to deal with my loss. In winter of 2008, while the stock market was crashing down around us, I lost money I had invested and I knew I was in trouble financially.
I became a homeless woman in the spring of 2009. I lost my home, defaulted on the loan, in May 2009. According to three realtors current market appraisals my home equity was less than zero. Because if I had the good fortune to sell my home I would have had to borrow money to pay the commission! The end. $100,000 down the drain. No job. No home. In June 2009 I auctioned all of my personal belongings and was on the road with a couple of suitcases in my car.
A large part of being homeless is denial. At first I could not tell anyone or ask for help because there is such huge shame and humiliation with this and you still don't think it's true. For the first couple of months I felt I had been zapped with a stun-gun. I was in shock. I drove back to northern California because I had missed it so much and I stayed at the beach while trying to figure out what to do. I knew I needed to check out shelter living and I did look at services and shelters available in Mendocino and Santa Clara counties. What they offered was very minimal and emergency shelters were full. But then, by the grace of God I came to Santa Rosa; when I arrived here in July '09 I had no car, no income and $4 in my wallet. I made phone calls to the family members I have in California and the mid-west but they were not able to help. One truth of homelessness is 'expect to be blamed for your circumstances'. Because of the stigma of being a homeless person, your family does not want to have much to do with you. I believe that it hits too close for comfort and they would rather hold you at arm's length - like you're contagious. Out of sight, out of mind.
I found my way to Homeless Services Center where I was given local shelter phone numbers to call. From there I walked to the Rescue Mission in Santa Rosa where I stood in line for a meal. Also, I was to meet the caseworker that would drive me to a woman's shelter. Standing in that line, I was so lost, and I realized my shame was greater than my fear. I prayed for God to lead me and care for me. I was admitted to a women's emergency shelter where I was given the bottom bunk bed in a small room that slept six women. This shelter provided me with basic necessities in a highly structured environment which suited me well at the time. I was able to get my feet on the ground and find resources and sites that showed homeless, jobless women how to get help and benefit from the local programs. 'The Living Room' is a very efficient center run by community, church and volunteers where they provide telephones, computers, 'how-to' forms and instruction to access government and community programs for aid. The Living Room serves breakfast and lunch five days a week, offers support groups, and it is a wonderfully welcoming place. From here I became part of a circle that met three times weekly and worked on credit reports, self-esteem, resumes, etc. I also heard of the Sloan House Shelter and about their Wellness Program of empowering us to reclaim our lives. I was admitted to and became part of the Sloan House program for homeless women in August 2009.
Another important factor of being homeless, that no one believes unless they have been there, is the intensity of each day. I could not have imagined how much energy it takes to just maintain yourself, especially while you become more and more sleep deprived. All of your senses operate on high day and night in a state of hyper-vigilance. And there is usually so much drama going on around you - twenty women and children all trying to get their needs met and be heard. It's very challenging to keep yourself calm and think what is best for you. The basic routine for most shelters is to be up by 6:00am and moving out the door by 7:30am, returning at 6:00pm each evening, seven days a week. The Sloan House Shelter provides an easier pace, out of the house by 10:00am, return at 4:00pm and weekends are stay home. I am so very grateful for the food, shelter and safe place to return to each day and night at a time when I was most vulnerable. Sloan's Wellness Program conducts classes on most afternoons, subjects covering personal health and nutrition, applications for various subsidized housing programs, work related topics, relationship building, financial fitness, etc.. Community Action Partnership of Sonoma (C.A.P.S.) sponsors the Sloan House Shelter so the classes offered are current and relevant. The shelter is also blessed by the many caring, committed women and men providing time and donations.
By following their Wellness program I was able to stay with Sloan House for six months, and working with my caseworker's assistance we found a grant that paid my rental deposit and subsidized my rent for several months. Also, because of my personal health history I applied for social security income. Every client at Sloan House meets with their caseworker regularly and outlines a plan that fits their specific needs.
As of March this year I am now living in my own apartment. Because of the support and guidance I received at the Sloan House Shelter I am building a new life that I feel secure in and trusting myself to be able to care for myself. I have new friendships and am looking to volunteer and give back to the homeless community wherever I can. THANK YOU so very much."
Sloan House Resident
"It is my pleasure to help with Sloan House and to be a Sloan Angel. The woman who spoke at Lunafest really touched me and gave me a different perspective on homelessness. In fact, the following week, as I was entering the Sebastopol post office, I noticed a couple who were sitting on the steps. The woman held a sign requesting help. Rather than simply offer $$$ or change, I sat down to talk with them. We talked for about 1/2 an hour . I learned about how they became homeless and some of the circumstances of their lives. I told her about Sloan House in case her relationship was not healthy. As we talked, my mind and my heart opened. Turns out she is from the same community in southern California as I am. When I said she looked tired, that being homeless was hard on the body and that we probably were the same age (60); she replied that she was 48 ! Life has been rough for her and it was written all over face.
And so, at Lunafest and on this particular day, homelessness took on a face; a REAL life human face. I set aside judgement and let compassion guide my choice of what to do next. I first went at got them some food at a deli nearby and gave them a little cash. Then I simply asked "What do you need"?
Their needs are simple and basic, a 2 person tent, some flashlights, a way to get warm food and food in general. I found out that they go to the Sebastopol Christian Church to shower, use the phone and get some food. They go there because unlike some other spots in Sonoma County, they are treated with respect there. I learned through our conversation that there is not a homeless shelter in Sebastopol nor is there any organized way to serve the homeless. Where I lived 12 years ago, in southern Cal., the local churches had organized to house,clothe and feed the homeless every night of the week; each church and it's congregation taking on one night. I've spoken to several people since then and we all agree, we need to do something for the homeless in Sebastopol. We certainly have enough churches/temples and a caring community. Last week I was at the Sebastopol tree lighting ceremony. I spoke with a man who lives near where the homeless "hang out". He shared that he too is concerned. How do people manage in the rain? We were standing in the rain with umbrellas, warm coats, gloves and a cup of warm cider in our hands. Where and how were the homeless managing ?
He agreed to join me in plans to organize on behalf of the homeless of Sebastopol. That made the seventh person in less than a week to agree to do "something". What that "something "is, I don't know, but I am open, willing and because of experiences like Lunafest more aware of the tremendous need. Given the tough times so many face these days, I wonder how many of us are just a few steps away from the road to homelessness.
I am committed to being part of a committee to take this on. Those of us who are able and can HAVE TO ! I can't and won't do it alone, but I am willing to be part of a team
So, thank you, for the work that YOU do; for helping to create an event that put a HUMAN face on homelessness. Thank you for taking action with your time, energy, compassion and moxy for those who are in need AND for those of us who want and need to serve. Your energy and vitality are contagious and your spirit is inspirational.
It is a JOY to know you, work with you and call you friend. THANK YOU ... ANGEL MELODY!"
- Maria G.
"Jane entered the shelter after being hospitalized for life-threatening health problems. She had been formerly been working at in a high-paced office setting, owned her own home, and loved to spend her free time working out. Due to these health problems, she had lost her job, her house, her car, and found herself without a support system to help her get well. The Sloan House shelter gave her a safe place to stay as she participated in a support group at a local drop-in center for homeless women, attended weekly medical appointments, and began the process of regaining her health. With help and encouragement, she was able to sign up for retirement benefits, and access a local program to help her pay her first month of rent and deposit. She was able to move from the shelter into a room for rent, where she will be able to continue to heal and maintain the new supportive connections she has made in her community."
- Lynea S.
Shelter Supervisor and Wellness Case Manager
"Hello, my name is Eve and I was a resident of the Sloan Women's Shelter and an active participant in their "Wellness Program" for seven months in 2009. For most of my adult life I have been a single mom and successfully provided a home for myself and my children. Due to a financial breakdown in my life 15 years ago I found myself, my children, and my grandchildren homeless for the first time. I haven to homeless shelters off and on since 1999.
No matter how hard I worked to save money and do the things I needed to get "my feet back on the ground" regarding improving my homeless situation, something always happened and my circumstances failed and I found myself starting over again... repeating the vicious cycle of homelessness that so many others are now experiencing.
In February 2009, I entered the Sloan Women's Shelter and decided to do the best I could with the tools and resources offered me through the Wellness Program. I set and followed through with goals regarding my health, income, recovery, and housing with the guidance of my case manager. To improve my knowledge and management of finances, I completed the Rent Up program and financial fitness workshops through Community Action Partnership. The topics of these workshops are Rental Agreements, Landlord-Tenant relationships, and Financial Literacy. In conjunction with these workshops I was able to create long term budgeting and saving goals in preparation to succeed as a tenant.
The Sloan Women's Shelter and their "Wellness Program" which I completed at the end of August 2009, provided the "missing link" to what I needed to overcome homelessness. Without the support and integrity of the wonderful staff and case management there, as well as the education I received by participating in the workshops provided, I would not have gained the courage and self-confidence to apply and be approved for my own brand new apartment which I moved into the first of September 2009. I love my beautiful new place and I know I will be happy there for many years!! It is so hard to believe it's real, but even more difficult to believe is the complete peace of mind I found through doing this program."