It was right in the middle of the holiday season when Celeste arrived at work and found the doors of the salsa plant were locked.
“I got there and the plant was closed,” Celeste recalls. “There was no notice, no sign … nothing.”
For Celeste, that meant she was out of a job. As she left the plant, she began thinking about the uncertainty she faced. Celeste had four children waiting at home who were counting on the money she would have made that day. She attempted to pull together all of her resources, hoping to find some financial relief.
“I tried to get assistance from other agencies, but since it was during the holidays, their funding was low and demand was high. They were unable to help me,” she says.
“I was hurt. Christmas that year was terrible because I couldn’t give the kids anything. We lived off of noodles and hot dogs for weeks,” Celeste said almost in tears.
By the start of the New Year, Celeste and her children were completely out of food with no money to buy more.
“I was at the point where I had very little faith and nothing else to look forward to. I didn’t have anything, and I felt like I was drowning,” Celeste says.
With little hope left, she called United Way’s 211 and asked for help.
“They referred me to La Posada,” she says. “I was scared and really did not know what to expect.”
Celeste and her family moved into La Posada three weeks after Christmas. “I told the kids, ‘this is where we’re going to stay until Jesus finds us a new home.’ ”
Life at La Posada
With the help from La Posada staff and other residents, things began to look up for Celeste and her children.
“We were like a big family,” she says. “It was safe, clean and the kids were able to make new friends.”
While there, Catholic Charities connected Celeste with resources and programs that would help her get back on her feet.
“I started to receive financial assistance, found a job, received counseling for depression and parenting, and started taking classes at a local college.”
Celeste even attended her home church regularly.
“The staff was very supportive of me through everything. They made sure I was still in school and going to counseling.”
Celeste made such great progress that case workers Jeanelle and Vickie thought Catholic Charities’ Permanent Supportive Housing would be a good fit for her.
The program helps clients who are homeless by providing tools to become self-sufficient through government subsidies for housing and support services such as job referrals, financial education and case management.
“I guess they saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time. It was motivating, and it made me want to do more,” Celeste says.
Since entering the Permanent Supportive Housing Program, Celeste is back on track and living on her own.
“Celeste has made tremendous progress. She is employed and has maintained housing for over three years. She is an outstanding mom because being single and raising four children is not easy, and she is very successful,” says Vickie Williams, program coordinator.
Celeste is now settled and lives in a four-bedroom home with her children.
“I have a job with the county, and I am ten credits away from graduating with a degree in business,” Celeste shares.
“My goal is to open my own business and raise enough money so that I can give back to the program that helped me.”
With constant motivation from Catholic Charities staff and others, Celeste and her family are in a better place.
“The kids are progressing in school. They love it here. I’m happy now and at peace.”
“To the donors, I just want to say thank you so much. I don’t know where my life would be without the help of these programs.”