Darla R. - 2010 Changing Life Award Winner
When Darla arrived at the Haven in January 2009, Anne and Bridget could see immediately that she was ready for a change. She had lost custody of her children and been in prison for 3 ½ years for drug related charges and wanted a way out of the situation she had found herself in. She wrote Anne from prison and Anne said she gave her a chance, like everyone else, but had serious doubts. “Darla came from a very dysfunctional background and was older than other clients…she had quite a few obstacles in her way. We hadn’t seen much success in clients that had been in prison for that length of time.”
Anne said that Darla’s desire to change was hard to believe at first, but within 5 short months, she entered the Homeless to Homeowners program. Not an easy feat; most clients take between 9 and 15 months to be ready to take the next step out of the Haven. Her kids went from not wanting anything to do with her, to all being back in her live. Her 18 year-old son will graduate from high school this spring and continue on to college. Her youngest son, now 11 years old, Tivaughn is very bright and has every intention (and now, opportunity) to follow in his older brother’s footstep.
In May of 2010, Darla found out that she was accepted in the Mutual Self Help Housing program. Bridget Cervantes is a case manager at the Haven Shelter and has been working with Darla for quite a while. Bridget told Darla, “I’ve told so many people about the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program over the years and you (Darla) are the only one that has followed through with it.” Darla was amazed by this statement. She feels it’s an opportunity that should not be passed up. She says it is scary, though - what if I can’t afford it in the end; what happens when all the excitement wears off; what if my volunteers don’t show up to help???? All questions that run through her head every day. But each time she goes out to the jobsite, she is amazed at how much progress has been made already. She hopes to be in her house on her birthday in September.
In an effort to showcase the Self-Help housing program and what a person can expect to happen during the process, we asked Darla to let us follow her quarterly and include her story and progress in our EICAP in Action newsletters. When we asked her for an idea for the title of the article she immediately came back with “Only in My Dreams”.
When an opening at the Haven for a driver became available, Darla was encouraged to apply for it. She has worked at the Haven since October 2009 as a driver and we have added to her job the responsibility of doing data entry for two different databases. She is a huge asset to the Haven team. Her co-workers describe her as dedicated, hardworking and organized. She is also bilingual which has been a huge help to families that speak Spanish as well as the staff of the Haven.
Thank you, Darla for your hard work and great attitude.