Raising four children on one’s own is challenging — and it’s unaccountably more difficult without a place to live. Marissa, who did not want her last name used for privacy reasons, remembers …
Raising four children on one’s own is challenging — and it’s unaccountably more difficult without a place to live.
Marissa, who did not want her last name used for privacy reasons, remembers the struggles all too well, even though she finally just moved into a place of her own in Arvada.
“For a while, I was living with my grandmother, but that was a bad situation, and then lived with an aunt,” she said.
“Then I was living in the Volunteers of America Family Motel for a while, and then was recommended to try here.”
The “here” is Marisol Homes, Jefferson County’s newest homeless shelter, which provides a home for homeless women and domestic violence survivors and their children. Operated by the Catholic Charities of Denver, Marisol has several locations in the metro area, as well as Greeley and Fort Collins.Marisol is supposed to be the last stop before getting into stable living, according to Catholic Charities of Denver. The assistance the organization provides aims to stop all the moving around, and help with features and skill like income and savings.
The new Lakewood facility has been taking in families for more than year. During much of that time, the location, formerly a Catholic convent, has been fully renovated for more than 20 mothers and their children. The facility has a full-service kitchen, classrooms and play areas for children and teenagers.
It is open to women who are 18 years and older, who are pregnant or have children. The children can be up to 17 years old if they’re girls or 12 years old for boys.
“We make sure they have things like an income, identification of some kind, birth certificate, Social Security card, and run a background check,” said Amy Eurek, program director at the Lakewood home. “Once they’re accepted to our program, we focus on four things — financial health, housing, parenting and family and community support.”
Women who are admitted are assigned a case worker. It’s difficult to be financially stable or find employment if a mother’s health is poor, Eurek said. Marisol also helps connect women to other charities and service organizations.
Many of the women and their children are victims of domestic violence, so Marisol provides trauma care and other counselling needs. Children are required to be enrolled in school, and mothers spend the hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the community working on goals like finding employment and housing.
“Accomplishing something in any of the four primary areas are tricky,” Eurek said. “Not everyone has their own transportation. So you have to imagine what little time they have when everything is scheduled around the bus. Imagine doing everything you need to get ready for the day, and doing it on a bus.”
Marisol’s help doesn’t end once the mothers find a home and a job. The organization has an alumni program in which caseworkers check in and help with skills such as staying on a budget and building a support group with their new neighbors and friends.
“Those big successes are great, but it’s the little successes along the way that are my favorite part,” Eurek said. “The small successes add up to a big difference for these families.”
Marissa and her children are setting up in their new home, and she is ready to face the challenges ahead.
“For any other woman who is thinking about coming here, I would tell them to stick at it and be patient,” she said. “It’s not all about you — it’s about your kids. You just have to be positive.”