Grace, a 32-year-old mother of three, is a survivor.
Her life today is unrecognizable from the one she led when first arriving to Charlotte after experiencing domestic violence. Her children are now honor roll students in stable schools. She’s a member of RunningWorks, a Lotus Campaign partner. Moreover, her family is out of the shelters and in a home of their own.
Grace’s journey was an arduous one. Upon becoming homeless, a local shelter helped her family find housing through a rapid rehousing program, an initiative to quickly help connect families and individuals to housing and services. But the housing complex was unsafe and unstable. The family endured regular, nearby gang activity, and Grace’s children faced fierce bullies at school. She broke her lease, moving her family back into a shelter. That was no better. Despite trying desperately to work within the system, she experienced persistent roadblocks. Then, someone recommended RunningWorks. She was skeptical why this would be any different. Reflecting on it now, she says it was an opportunity to “open up the book and read the first chapter before you judge someone.”
RunningWorks “assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness and poverty with their needs for physical, emotional and social well-being.” They were Lotus Campaign’s first partner because of their unique, three-pronged approach that combines health and wellness initiatives, workforce development, and financial literacy with housing and ongoing services.
In partnership with Levine Properties, a Lotus Campaign Participating Landlord, Lotus Campaign and RunningWorks helped Grace find a home and community in February of 2018.
Today, they love their neighbors and the building staff, and volunteer at 30 RunningWorks events a year. Her children are on the football team and in Girl Scouts at a high performing school. Grace believes her story can help others. She trusted RunningWorks and Lotus Campaign and is now looking forward to accomplishing her lifelong goal of starting a daycare center in the next year, with the help of her RunningWorks support system. Grace’s story shows that housing alone is insufficient for creating lasting change for those experiencing homelessness. Paired with ongoing supportive services, however, housing is a powerful first step to unlocking self-sufficiency and economic mobility.