“I think a lot of people just tend to turn their heads and think that homeless people are not equal. If you were in that position, you wouldn’t want to be treated bad. All homeless people aren’t bad, there may be some who are having issues. You have to remember that they have had difficult past lives or bad home lives that made them like that...” – Melissa.
“I was a girl scout. I won awards in grade school for spelling. Spelling was my best subject! I graduated high school and I did attend college, but I didn’t finish. I would meet a guy and that would cause me to mess up. I would get with a guy and quit college, work or whatever.”
Melissa came to Texas from California in 2012 to escape a bad relationship and first heard about Open Door through her friends at Tent City. After experiencing homelessness for a total of 16 years, Melissa has been in permanent supportive housing for almost a year. “When you are homeless, you tend to feel bad about yourself. Being in a house and having people that care about me, makes me feel better and I hold myself better. I do get stressed a lot, but I’m still learning every day.”
She smiles and shakes her head as she admits she tends to be a little negative and emotional. It’s typical of her old way of thinking.
Since coming to Open Door, Melissa has formed close friendships with the community and her neighbor. “If I didn’t have my friends I would be lost. My friends give me advice. I love that I have friends here that are there for me and listen when I need to talk.” Melissa has formed a special relationship with her case manager, Paige, who says: “Every day I see her, she has a smile on her face and she is an encouraging friend. It’s not just that she has good friends, she is a good friend to the people around here. That’s something for her to be proud of.”
“I am proud of being a mother to my kids and being able to enjoy what time I get with them on the phone because they are all spread out. I just found out I’m a grandma for the 5th time! When you are on the streets, it’s hard to think about other things besides surviving and taking care of yourself. I’ve been able to call my son and tell him that I’m in a home and not on the streets and I am really grateful that I don’t have to worry about all that.”
As Melissa thinks about her future, her eyes drift off and I can certainly detect a spark of continued hope. “I hope to have a car and get my license. I just want everything to be okay. Hopefully I can be able to help somebody else that needs help on the streets. I know what they’re going through and I always try to say something. If they don’t want my help, I’ll just try to help somebody else because you can’t force somebody to do something they don’t want to do.”
Since being housed, Melissa has re-discovered some of her old hobbies. She regularly makes necklaces for the community. It’s her way of giving back to the people of Open Door. She also enjoys doing puzzles, painting and decorating her yard. She has recently added a roommate, a four-legged roommate.
“I love my dog and I am so grateful that I get to have her. My dog was on the street before she was with me. I love that I can give her love and a home. She knows when I’m sick or if I’m hurting, she feels my sadness. Her name is Athena.”
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