My name Tanisha. In 2003, my mother passed away and a few months later I moved to Wilmington from Philadelphia.
I have always worked. I had always been a caregiver and so I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the nursing field. I met Darrin in 2005 and we hit it off well. We enjoyed vacations. One of my favorites was going to Cancun. We then had our son and everything was still going well. Life was good. I was doing a job I loved. I was a Certified Nursing Assistant at a nursing home.
A few years later, my health got bad. I had to have a hip replacement in 2012 but I went back to work full-time after the surgery. I was told I needed to get the other hip done but I was afraid of not being able to pay bills so I did not have surgery. I needed to be productive and get my work done. Everything was ok.
In 2014, my hip had gotten so bad that I could not walk. Darrin had a job but it was minimum wage and part-time. He even picked up hours with our landlord doing security but it was not enough. He was willing and able to work but we still fell behind with bills.
We found ourselves not able to provide for our son. I found myself homeless after all of these years. We needed help. There are many shelter programs for women and children. One shelter even wanted to split us up. This meant Darrin would not be part of the picture. We are both the parents and we have been together for 12 years, but all of a sudden we were not seen as a family.
Family Promise offered me options. I could have come into the shelter program but I thought from my previous experiences with shelters, this would split up my family again. I kept up with my story of it just being me and my son. I thought to myself I am strong enough to get through this. I did not enter the shelter program and Family Promise still helped get me into housing.
The first time I met the staff, I just got this feeling they cared, they understood and they weren’t talking down to me. I thought I was alone but they made me know I wasn’t alone. I never felt that from other shelters before. Ever.
Family Promise guided me to a program through my son’s school that helped me get housing. It was a blessing because now I could get my hip surgery done, four years later.
I had a life before I was homeless. To wake up one day and you know it is all over, that the landlord is done working with you, it is extremely stressful. It took a toll on our health. The stress built up so much that Darrin even had a stroke this summer, a week before I was going in for the hip surgery. Then the depression hits because you begin feel guilty. At one point I thought, “Maybe, I shouldn’t have had the surgery. I shouldn’t have stopped working to tend to my health.” But, the doctors told me in 2012 I need this surgery and I had already waited four years.
Experiencing homelessness and asking for help was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But my son was flourishing in school. He still is! Since school has started this year, he has won student of the week and most improved. My son was not affected by this experience because I sheltered him from it all. I would say, “We are just waiting on a new house, but I need you to still do good in school”. I would encourage him to talk to me if he had any issues.
Even now that I am in my home, I still stay in touch. Family Promise even made sure my son was covered and ready to go back to school. We all fall down at some point but we can help each other get back up. I do not feel alone anymore and I know I’m not a failure. My feeling of self-worth is coming back. I feel healthy again. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Family Promise said, “You just came on some hard times, we all do. It’s ok. We are here for you.”