Miriam House Provides Timely Assistance to a Young Mother with Nowhere to Turn
Ashley, a young mother, is playing airplane with her little boy in the cheerful, well-swept living room of a house on a shady street in near-downtown Norwalk. She’s understandably proud as she introduces her son.
“This is Vega,” she says. “Like the star.”
The place is Miriam House, a transitional shelter for homeless women and their young children, including, since August, Ashley and Vega. Ashley was raised in the Southwest, in a family that was so chaotic her mother didn’t even try to enroll her in high school until Ashley was 18. So it’s no surprise that raising her boy in the chaos of her parents’ home didn’t exactly work out. Besides, she says, she wants a better upbringing for her son than she had.
Ashley spent what little money she had coming to northwest Ohio to stay with other relatives, but their patience soon wore thin.
“It’s not easy living with a baby,” she says with a shrug. When they told her she would have to leave, she was out of options. “I was stuck. I had no money and I didn’t know a soul around here. Someone told me about this place, so I called and they told me to get over here right away. This place was there for me when nobody else was. I was afraid I’d have to find a way to live on the street with my baby, so I’m very grateful.
“And this isn’t like a homeless shelter at all. It’s like a little house. There’s love here. Whatever your traumas or your issues, the staff here go out of their way to help. I’ve gotten tips and guidance on all kinds of things. Like how to manage money.
“I’m working on getting set up so I can have a place of my own for me and my son. I have a lot of hope for him. I don’t want to see him fall.
“I myself was never taught anything that was important when I was growing up. My whole life now is dedicated to helping him have something better.
“That’s why I appreciate the classes I take here. I’ve improved so much since I’ve come here. I’m proud of what I’ve done.
“Doing things right in life is very important. You only get one chance.”
Roxanne Sandles, Catholic Charities Housing Program Coordinator, is quick to credit the efforts to educate and guide the residents with the success of Miriam House.
“Ashley is right about that,” she said. This really is not just a homeless shelter. We do try to give the women the help they need to improve their life skills and their job marketability. They need to be able to take responsibility for where they are, and work to ensure that they are making better decisions in the future.
“It’s not easy. But I find that ‘important’ and ‘easy’ are two words that rarely go together.”