It was almost Christmas Day when Jasmine found herself out in the cold with only her pajamas. She didn’t have the chance to grab her shoes. She didn’t know what to do.
She had been temporarily staying with her son’s father but due to a conflict, she could no longer stay there and she found herself without a home. At the time she wasn’t working and didn’t have any friends to reach out to. Financially, her family was unable to help.
“I had to swallow my pride, put myself in a shelter and start from scratch. I realized I had to do whatever I had to do to become successful and independent again,” Jasmine says.
At 31 years old, Jasmine is a mother of a two-year old son whom she loves very much and aspires to be a great example for him as he grows up.
Since he was born, Jasmine stayed at home raising her son, but due to issues at home, she realized she should start looking for a job. She is currently a resident at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), a local shelter which aims to help families and individuals become self-sufficient. Jasmine is no exception to this mission.
She was accepted as a resident and decided from day one that her goal would be to get out as quickly as possible.
“You only go into a shelter if you absolutely have to and you work with your case manager to get yourself back to being independent and stabilized.”
That’s exactly what Jasmine set out to do. She met with her case manager right away to learn about the different opportunities available for young mothers facing homelessness. She applied for the Rapid Re-Housing program, Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program and St. Joseph the Worker employment program. She wanted to quickly be on her way to obtaining a job and a residence.
But it’s not easy in the beginning, especially for a mother who has nothing.
“When I first came to CASS, I didn’t have clothes and I didn’t have money for food. I applied for food stamps, but you have to wait to get them. My case manager told me about St. Vincent de Paul’s dining room [located next to CASS].”
Jasmine shares that she didn’t know what she would do without SVdP’s downtown Phoenix dining room. She began going to the dining room every day for breakfast and lunch.
She quickly found it to be a place of respite and refuge.
“The best thing about St. Vincent de Paul is that it’s a place where you can sit down, relax and really rest your thoughts. You can eat a warm meal, watch some TV, or just sit and rest. You don’t have to worry about what’s going on outside. When you live in a homeless shelter, you have to constantly be aware of your surroundings and you have to have a thick skin. But here in the dining room, I can let go of that.”
Fortunately, due to Jasmine’s diligence and committed mindset, she didn’t need to seek this type of refuge for long. Through WIA, she was able to sign up for classes to obtain her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification through an intense expedited course. She applied with Americorps to get a job working at Hands On Greater Phoenix. She even got a job working at a restaurant. Suddenly her schedule was very busy.
“I’m very determined. If I want something, I’m going to work my way up to it and overcome any obstacles in the way. I do this because I want to leave behind a good legacy for my son. It’s important for me to regain my strength, confidence and independence.”
During her time in the shelter, Jasmine says she has still been able to see her son a few times a week and that has been a lifesaver for her. She looks forward to the day when she is in her own home and he can stay with her for longer periods of time. And thankfully, that day is coming very soon.
Jasmine will be moving into her own apartment and will finish her CNA course by the end of April. After finishing her training course, she will study to take the state board examinations and will begin looking for work as a caregiver.
Jasmine, like many others who find themselves homeless, faced an uncertain future. But her determination to work hard, seek out resources and become independent is an incredible inspiration.
“I’m so thankful and appreciative of all the blessings that have come my way and of all the resources and opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of. I’m doing this for myself, but also for my son more than anything.”