SUCCESS STORIESTESTIMONIALS FROM OUR COMMUNITY
BERNADETTE: A STORY OF RESILIENCY
This is the story of Bernadette and her children, who will soon leave McAuley Village to start their new life.
“The day I received the call that I had been accepted into the McAuley Village program was the happiest day of my life. I was a single mom for the first 18 months of my son’s life before we moved in with his dad. Soon after, he began to be physically abusive with me and unkind to our son. One day, I made the decision to leave with my son and just the clothes on my back. Luckily, my cousin took me in and we spent months sleeping in her parlor. During that time, I found out I was pregnant and had my daughter. I will always be grateful to my cousin. Eventually, the landlord told my cousin we had to leave—we were homeless.
I had been able to find a full-time job and was able to pay for a motel while trying to find an apartment I could afford. Money was tight, and I was days away from having to sleep in the car when I was invited to come live at the Village. I am so very grateful to McAuley Village and everyone that works there. Thanks to them, I was able to keep my job, find quality childcare for my daughter, and register my son in a new school and the Boys and Girls Club after-school program. When I moved into the Village in the fall of 2017, I had no idea where to begin, but they knew exactly how to connect me with resources. My van was breaking down and the Village helped me with repairs so I could get to work. They helped me learn about finances and budgeting, and thanks to them I was able to save money, enough for a security deposit, first month’s rent, and a moving van for when I move into permanent housing.
But the greatest gift McAuley Village gave me was a safe and loving place for my children. While I was struggling to get on my feet and make a better life for my family, my children had a home, with friends and lots of people who cared for them. During the holidays, they went to parties and were showered with gifts. In the spring, they received new sneakers and clothes for the summer.
With the help of Janette, the housing advocate, I was selected to receive a housing voucher and I am now searching for a new home, hopefully in northern Rhode Island. I can never thank everyone enough for all they have done for us! The day we move out will be the saddest and happiest day for my little family. I’ll be saying goodbye to a wonderful place, and saying hello to a new life and a new home.” – Bernadette
It is your compassionate gifts that make it possible for families like Bernadette’s to get the help they need to move from homelessness to their best life possible!
We are proud of the great work that happens across our ministries thanks to the support of our community, and we invite you to read our latest newsletter.
McAULEY VILLAGE: MARLENY
Marleny was determined to make a better life for herself and her daughter. She chose the accounting path and immediately enrolled in classes. When it came time for the internship program selection process, Marleny stood out for her desire and work ethic and was chosen as an administrative assistant at McAuley Village.
With flying colors, Marleny excelled at her internship, and quickly became an asset. She began training other hospitality staff, improved service, and performed a wide-range of office duties. Marleny did so well, she was hired as part of our staff. But, Marleny didn’t stop there.
She continued to build her resume by advancing in her college courses, and refining her skills. Marleny left McAuley Village with permanent housing and a full-time job at a local business. She is on track to graduate from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in accounting.
“None of what I’ve been able to accomplish would have been possible without McAuley Village,” says Marleny. “They taught me that I could achieve anything I put my mind to. Thanks to the education program and McAuley Works, my daughter and I have a bright future ahead of us.”
After moving into McAuley Village, Jazmine applied for an administrative assistant position. From the get-go, she was ready to succeed and change her life.
Jazmine came to her interview professionally dressed after visiting our “Dress for Success” Boutique. She quickly learned the basics of working in an office, from filing and greeting visitors to taking phone calls and working with a computer.
Today, for the first time in her life, Jazmine is employed. But not only is she employed, she is working full-time for a large, national company. This past February, Jazmine and her two children moved into permanent housing.
As she turned in her McAuley Village keys, she said, “Thank you for believing in me. I never would be working, or have a home to call my own, if it weren’t for McAuley Village.”
Carmello is a soft-spoken and motivated 61-year-old gentleman anxiously anticipating his next birthday so he can begin receiving his social security benefits—which will provide him with financial security and affordable housing. He stays at a different emergency shelter night-to-night, staying wherever he can find an open bed. Occasionally, Carmello is fortunate enough to sleep on the couch of an acquaintance.
Each morning, Carmello begins his day with a cup of coffee and pastry at McAuley House, staying in the background of the bustle of the breakfast hour, occasionally sharing a conversation in Spanish with other guests.
Carol, a member of our Social Service Team, began working with Carmello after he approached her with a need for work boots so he could work as a temporary general day laborer. Regularly walking several miles each day to find work, Carmello explained that he had lost out on other temporary positions because he did not have boots. We gave Carmello work boots, and a monthly bus pass through a transportation grant we received.
Now able to work regularly when day positions are available, Carmello is working with Carol to fill out housing and employment applications for jobs that would provide him with more hours. He also diligently forges ahead with learning more English, his second language.
We are confident that Carmello’s strength and determination—and the helping hands that lift him up at McAuley House—will indeed assist in creating a happy ending to his frustrating journey of homelessness and limited income.
THE WARDE-ROBE: MARIA
Maria has been coming to The Warde-robe every Saturday for the past 15-years. She arrives when the thrift store opens at 11:00 a.m., and stays until it closes at 2:45 p.m. She spends her time looking through the clothing and household items with great determination.
Maria knows that the $20.00 she has to spend on herself and her 9-year-old grandson, and the household items she purchases, must be necessary. Because of her poverty, Maria could not get by without the help of The Warde-robe. “We are grateful for the generous and compassionate donations we receive throughout the year that help to sustain us, so we can serve people like Maria,” says Donna Benetti, Administrator of The Warde-robe.
MEET SOLY & HER FAMILY
Soly, a 24-year-old woman, showed up at McAuley House with her infant daughter in her arms and her husband and brother-in-law by her side. They drove to Rhode Island from Pennsylvania, leaving three other children behind with their grandmother as Soly’s husband, Robert, and his brother were promised jobs in jewelry manufacturing.
When the men arrived at the employer, they were told they needed a BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) background check to begin working; but they had no extra money or means to secure the paperwork. The family also needed a place to sleep, but found no room in local shelters and a waiting list of 8-weeks.
With no place to go, the family spent nights in their car until they found McAuley House.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Social Service Team was able to address the immediate needs of this stranded family by giving them formula, diapers and an infant carrier for the baby; food, coats and toiletries for the adults; and gift cards to local stores and pharmacies.
Robert and his brother were helped to get to the police department and given money orders to pay for their BCI checks. Connections were made with the employer, who started the men at work immediately. And a long ago friend of the family was found and they were offered a temporary place to stay.
McAuley House remains here for this family, welcoming them for meals and offering guidance as they search for the right living situation. We all pray that the family will remain together, continue working, and settle in so the rest of their children can move here to live with them once again.
LIVES CHANGED. LIVES SAVED.
Lisa knew her life would change, but she didn’t realize the pivotal role McAuley House would play in helping her realize that change.
In 2014, Lisa came to McAuley House to volunteer after a friend told her how much he liked working there. Lisa was homeless at the time, spending nights on her sister’s couch. But she enjoyed the time she spent at McAuley House during the day, helping to prepare and serve lunch. She was also grateful for the meals she received, and for the items she was given from the food pantry.
Soon, Lisa felt comfortable enough to ask for help and utilize the services that were available through Social Services at McAuley House, most importantly for housing. Sr. Joan, the social worker at the time, helped Lisa complete and monitor several housing applications. She was told it could take 5 to 10 years before a low-income apartment became available.
Lisa never gave up hope that she would find affordable housing, regularly asking Sr. Joan for an update on her waiting list status and looking for new opportunities. As time went on, Lisa became an important member of the McAuley House team. She did whatever she could to help out, working in the kitchen, doing laundry, and serving our guests. In many ways, everyone at McAuley House became her extended family. Just a few months into 2019, Lisa received the call she had been dreaming about for 5 years—she was at the top of the housing list to get an apartment of her own!
Lisa’s excitement, however, quickly turned to panic… how would she come up with the first month’s rent and security deposit she needed to move in? Unsure where else to turn, Lisa approached the administrator of McAuley House to ask if she could apply for the rental assistance program made possible by our generous donors. She was invited to apply. Through the help of supporters like you, Lisa was able to secure permanent housing and a new lease on life. A group of volunteers that worked with Lisa at McAuley House organized a special housewarming party for their friend, and provided Lisa with many of the things she needed to furnish her new home.
Your donations and the support of our staff and volunteers helped Lisa put her life on track.
“There is nothing like having your own home,” says Lisa. Lisa loves the independence that her new home has given her, and remains incredibly grateful to everyone at McAuley House for the help she received along the way. “I have a completely new outlook on life, and it’s all thanks to my McAuley House family,” she says. “I don’t know where I’d be without their help.”
McAuley Ministries is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and rooted in the ideals of its founder, Catherine McAuley. Our ministries provide the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, health services, emotional support and guidance, and respect for the most vulnerable in our community through our core values of Hospitality, Compassion, and Dignity.