How did you find out about Mary's Shelter?
I found out about Mary's Shelter through the INova Pregnancy Center in Fairfax, VA. I was currently living with my parents because my husband had literally abandoned my son and I, who was 4 at the time in El Paso, TX. So, I drove all the way from TX to VA with my son and everything that I could fit in my car. I literally had nowhere to go. Thankfully, my parents let me stay with them temporarily until I could find somewhere else to live because they had no extra room in their house for us. When I found out I was pregnant I was completely devastated and I had no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to go. I was so scared and I just thought to myself there is no way I could bring another child into this world, especially with my circumstances and the fact that the father wasn't going to help at all. When I went to the Pregnancy Center I wanted to find out my options and I was honestly considering an abortion. They told me about Mary's Shelter and gave me the contact information. They told me to call right away and how they might have an opening. So I contacted them right away and thank God, Ms. Kathleen told me they had a room for my son and I. We were able to move in within 2 weeks.
Please tell us what your life would have been like had you not come to Mary's Shelter.
I do not know what I would have done without Mary's Shelter. This shelter was truly a blessing to my kids and I. I don't know where I would have gone or lived and I was terrified I would have ended up on the streets or some of the horrible shelters that you hear about.
How would you describe your life growing up?
I didn't have the best upbringing. I lived with my biological mother and 2 brothers until the age of 8. We were taken from her by CPS because of abandonment, neglect and abuse. My mother was a schitzophrenic and heavily into drugs and alcohol. Our case was opened for 5 years and during that time my brother and I moved to several foster homes while we still maintained weekly supervised visits with our mom at the government center. Our case was finally closed after 5 years and we were adopted when I was 13. The parents who adopted my brother and I also adopted 6 other kids and have 3 biological. We were blessed to be adopted by such a nice and caring family.
Please tell us about your children.
I have a son named Tristen, who is 5. He is my first born. He is an amazing little boy who is so energetic and fun to be around. He is fun and creative and so caring and loving. He has endured alot at a young age but has such a positive attitude. My little Leah is my 9 month old daughter and she was such a surprise but definitely a blessing and now I could never imagine my life, or my little family without her. She is absolutely beautiful and such a happy little girl. Both of my kids are my heart and soul and their smiles light up every room and brighten all of my darkest days!!
What are your hopes for your children?
My hopes for my children are that they grow up to be good people and make good decisions. I hope they are ultimately healthy and happy and succeed in all their endevours. I would love for them to stay in school and go to college and get degrees. I hope they grow up to have a strong relationship with God and they will have strong and loving relationships with me and ultimately find significant others and have a family of their own.
What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced?
The greatest challenges I have faced were going through foster care at such a young age and being separated from my biological mother and siblings. It was hard moving so many times and living with so many different families. Saying goodbye to my biological mother at 13 was also very hard. Also, this past marriage of 7 years and having two kids with a man who ultimately turned out to be completely different than what I thought and abandoning his kids and family was obviously heart breaking and very traumatic. Another challenging hardship was going through this last pregnancy alone and moving to Fredericksburg and living in a shelter with my kids. I have definitely been through a lot in life but I like to think I have overcome every challenge I have been faced with the best way I could.
What have you found helpful about Mary's Shelter?
Mary's Shelter has helped me in so many ways. They have not only provided me with a place that I can call a home and a roof over my head but they have also helped out with baby clothes, toys, toiletries, and food. They were also able to help me go back to college and get a Clinical Medical Certificate, which is an opportunity I probably would have never gotten anywhere else.
Are there things about living at Mary's Shelter that you find difficult?
There are some strict rules at Mary's Shelter such as curfews and chores but it is not really difficult to abide by the rules or do the chores because they are very reasonable. Also they don't expect anything from you that you wouldn't have to do in the outside world living on your own. The only thing that can be kind of difficult is living with strangers and adapting to different women from different backgrounds and trying to all get along. When there are so many different personalities and so many women who come and go it can get emotionally draining trying to readjust over and over again....but if you just keep focus on yourself and your kids again, it is really not that hard.
What place does God have in your life?
I am Catholic and I do believe in God and that he led me to Mary's Shelter. My faith is still growing and I am in the process now of still getting to know God and finding a good church in the area for my kids and I. I hope that my faith with God will only grow stronger as the time goes on.