After years of homelessness, a mother and her children find new life at Shepherd’s Gate
By Vernon Hills
Dominique* shivered on the sidewalk as she waited for the bus with her 4 children. She held two of her children close, trying to keep them warm — while her other two huddled for warmth in a stroller.
It was late. The kids were all tired, but no one slept. “They were crying and telling me they wanted to lie down. But there was no place to do that.” Overwhelmed and exhausted, 23-year-old Dominique started to weep.
“My kids deserve a stable and healthy life.”
They had been homeless for years — sleeping in foreclosed houses and in cheap motels. But her children’s father spent the last of their money on drugs and there was nowhere to go. Dominique wanted to keep her family together, but she was at a breaking point . . .
“I NEED HELP.”
Dominique got off the bus and walked to her grandmother’s house to beg for a place to stay the night. At the door, Dominique simply said: “I can’t do this anymore. I need help.”
The next morning, she called Shepherd’s Gate.
It was no easy decision. She knew it would mean saying goodbye to her children’s father, Jason*, who was still on drugs. After 8 years, it wasn’t easy to leave the only person she felt could understand her pain.
Dominique’s dad died when she was just 4 years old. Her mom turned to alcohol to cope, leaving Dominique and her little sister on their own. When she was 14, she met Jason. Jason’s dad had left, and his mother was an addict, too. “We just clung to each other,” Dominique says.
A TOUGH CHOICE
Dominique had her first child at age 16, followed by 2 more before she was 20. But by the time their 4th baby was born, Jason was totally addicted to drugs. Dominique knew her children deserved a better life.
When Dominique called Shepherd’s Gate, she was desperate. “Nothing mattered to me anymore, except my kids. I felt like I needed Jason, but my kids needed me. They were depending on me to make a better life for them. I had to put myself aside.”
Today, that’s exactly what Dominique is doing. She’s working on her GED and getting a driver’s license. She’s taking parenting classes and working to build a stable life for her children. “I have God’s promises and I have hope for a future for my kids,” she says. “I hear my kids pray at night — they say, ‘Thank you for our food, thank you for our bed, thank you.’ It means everything to me to see the smile on their faces.”
Thank you for making a lasting difference in the lives of Dominique and her children!
*Name changed to protect privacy.