A Grandmother Graduates From College with A Bright Future Ahead
Gratitude, confidence and hope have replaced the darker days that left Pam Belew feeling as if the bottom had fallen out. In the not-too-distant past, the 58-year-old grandmother of 9-year-old Cory, whom she has legally adopted, struggled to parent and provide. She was unemployed, homeless and suffered from anxiety and depression.
Pam’s beginning with the program came about after good intentions gave way to a downhill spiral of events in 2011. In 2010, Pam and Cory had moved from Ohio to Florida to live with her son, Cory’s father. Things didn’t work out and not long after, she and Cory returned to Toledo.
With no job or home, Pam and Cory moved in with her mother who was living in senior housing. But that was a temporary situation and she realized she had to do the unthinkable – contact a homeless shelter. “I cried my eyes out every day,” she recalls of that desperate time.
Then a God thing happened. Someone at the shelter told her about Catholic Charities. “They interviewed me and I qualified for the program,” she says. Soon, Catholic Charities paved the way to secure housing – and ultimately, a brighter future – for Pam and Cory.
“Pam’s self-esteem was very low when she entered the program and being the age that she is, she felt it would be hard to get a job,” says her caseworker, Vickie Williams. “I suggested to her a few times that maybe she should go to school. She eventually made the decision to enter Stautzenberger College’s phlebotomy technician course.”
Initially intimidated, Pam ultimately graduated from the program and is now actively seeking work in her new field. “It was scary to go back to school,” says Pam. “Everyone was so much younger than I was.”
“Throughout the entire time that Pam went to school she was determined to get good grades, and that she did,” says Vickie. “She also knew the expectations of our program and continued to manage her apartment and set goals for herself.” Addressing her mental health issues – and taking care of her overall health – was also required to manage the depression and anxiety that had been derailing her.
Catholic Charities remains by her side as she forges ahead amid trials that test her spirit.
“Cory is doing exceptionally well,” says Pam, a testimony to her success in creating a new future for them both and setting a great example for her grandson. It shows in little Cory’s smile and energy as he plays with other kids in the neighborhood. “I thought he’d be more affected” by the moves and his experience with homelessness, she adds.
But she believes one thing for sure, “Without Catholic Charities none of this would have been possible. They’ve created opportunities for me. I am so thankful for the donors. Please let them know.”