Success Stories — In their own words

"I had a dream, when I was living in a box..."

I had a dream, when I was living in a box, to have a place of my own, to have a place to call my own, to have my own key, so I could do what I want to do, be how I want to be, to do what I want when I want to do it.

I was homeless for two years. Then I found Project Hospitality, and they helped me. There is something very good about this place. I had my dream for two years to have my own place, but I didn't do anything about it. I didn't know what to do about it. Then Project Hospitality helped me to get my dream... my own apartment. My dream has come true.

Now I have a new dream. My new dream is to fix my new home, fix my 'dream,' a little at a time. — E.

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I'm in my own place... a place I can call "HOME"

My name is F., and more than one year ago, I walked up the steps of Project Hospitality never realizing what a long, hard, and most of all, stressful struggle it would be to get to this point in my life.

Due to a history of major depression, I found myself giving up on life and as a result, I lost my apartment. I went from one friend's home to another, then to dirty, roach-infested motels until all my money was depleted. I slept in a U-Haul truck... by the beach or in parking lots of out of the way churches. I ate whatever was left over from fast food restaurants at the end of the night when they threw out what wasn't used. I went from bad to worse and finally decided I couldn't live life like this anymore.

By the time I got to Project Hospitality's Drop-in Center, I was in a crisis. Not a penny to my name and no one in my family to help me out, I felt desperate, frightened, and helpless. I was petrified of what my life had become and the fact that, at any given moment, I could have been raped, beaten, or worse... killed while living out on the streets.

I found out quickly that I could get help at the Drop-In Center. I cried during my intake, and the case manager supported me through the assessment process. I had to adjust to sleeping in a chair. I cried just about all the time.

The Housing Specialist quickly connected me to the Community Support Services social worker and the psychiatrist... This was a vital piece for me, and through working with the psychiatrist and the social worker and taking my medication, I was able to begin to feel some miniscule ray of hope. My depression was stabilizing, and through the support and encouragement of the Housing Specialist and mental health staff, I was able to begin to explore Human Resources Administration benefits and potential housing options.

The next hurdle I encountered was that it took 45 days for my benefits to be activated. When working with the Housing Specialist, it came to light the shortage of supportive and supported housing that was available to people with mental health issues. There were waiting lists, and I was forced to look into the public housing system. This setback created tremendous stress, and as a result, I needed to intensify my mental health treatment and change my medication so as to help me through this time.

Finally, after several months, I received my Section 8 voucher. I was very excited and beginning to see how having the support of the mental health staff and the housing specialist along with addressing my depression was working.

I got my keys to my apartment on March 1, 2004. I continue to live with the fear... that at any time my apartment could be taken away from me if anything happens to Section 8 and leased housing.

I'm in my own place... a place I can call "HOME." Without the comprehensive mental health and housing services I received, none of this would have happened. I now recognize the importance of continuing to address my depression to continue to maintain my housing. I'll be starting school shortly, and best of all I feel like I'm a functioning human being once again. — F.

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"I never thought of being homeless but I know how it feels..."

Hello my name is M., and I was a homeless person. Thanks to the personnel of Project Hospitality and the staff of Positive Living, I now have my life in order.

I became homeless due to circumstances beyond my control. I lost everything, including a person who I spent 15 years of my life with, from AIDS. I am HIV+, and I am learning to cope with my illness thanks to the help of my caseworker.

I never thought of being homeless, but I know how it feels. Project Hospitality took the time and effort in helping to get my life back in order... My warmest love and gratitude go out to the staff of Project Hospitality. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for this organization. — M.

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"Now I am better than before, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Everything I do is positive. My children's attitudes are even better. Two have been student of the month already and I am in nursing school."

My children were excited to be here on the first day. I love children and saw that Hospitality House did also.

I came out of a very abusive relationship, and my counselor here was a great help to me by working with my emotions and finding the root of my problem. She got me to open up, something I never experienced in other places.

Upon my arrival here, the staff was more than happy to help me with my things. That's something I'm definitely not used to. Then, by the end of the day, they came by my room to make sure everything was OK. I really felt at home. Hospitality House is what it portrays, making you comfortable.

Though I haven't been here very long, I don't feel so burdened and so heavy, because there are so many things to do.

The staff here is always willing to talk or just listen to what you have to say. That's important, I feel, for mothers.

Now, I am better than before, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Everything I do this positive. My children's attitudes are even better. Two have been student of the month already, and I am in nursing school. When my home is a permanent one, I will not forget Project Hospitality. — L.

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"If you believe in yourself, you will come out a better person"

For six months now, I have been with Project Hospitality. I must say I am thankful for many things that have changed my life. I came into the system because of domestic violence. I was feeling really bad about myself. I was six months pregnant and I also had a seven-year-old son. In my 28 years I have been on this earth, I've gone through a lot...

Since the age of 14, I was very independent. I had a job, bought all my school clothes, even though I had to give my mother half the money. I got married at the age of 19 and had my first child at the age of 20. I always had a job and never depended on anyone to do anything for me. The marriage didn't work; after six years, it was over. I had to struggle all by myself with my son. I worked everyday and sometimes on Saturday. I had no one, not even my family. Things got so bad I called on God to take over my life.

In 1996, I met this guy who [at first] was so wonderful to me... As time passed, things got worse, and he was using drugs and abusing me. I stuck it out because I really loved him. He didn't get better so I left, but I still love him. Coming to Project Hospitality changed my life. With the help of the wonderful staff, I was able to open up. I know now that my life is still going to go on regardless of what anyone says. I can truly say that when you come to Project Hospitality if you put your mind to it and believe in yourself, you will come out a better person. Now I can say I'm a better person emotionally and mentally. I would like to thank Project Hospitality. I hope that you can keep up the good work with me until I find permanent housing. — M.

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"I'd lost everything except my sense of humor and the love of my children"

Greetings. My name is G. I'm a divorced, 40 year old mother of three. My son is 24 and is in the Navy. My daughter is a vivacious 12 year old and in the 5th grade. Finally, there's my delightfully impish 22 month old.

My parents are both retired from the Navy. I have six sisters and one brother who was killed in Vietnam in 1968. I'm a well-educated woman, with a zany sense of humor and a penchant for writing. I've done lots of things, from teaching to telephone operating. I'm also an alcoholic/addict, now in recovery, due, in no small way, to my coming to Hospitality House.

There are none of the usual excuses or reasons for my addictions. My family is loving and supportive, there is no apparent dysfunction. They drink sparingly. I was always emotional and high strung. I was a child of the sixties, but so were four of my non-addictive siblings. It was simply the luck of the draw, I suppose. I drank for 25 years and drugged for 10. I worked, cared for my home and family, and slowly deteriorated.

By the time I entered Hospitality House, I'd been homeless for nearly two years. I'd lost everything except my sense of humor and the love of my children, and I was addicted to crack. Within a few short months the staff here had me looking at my disease and myself in a new light. I was given a thorough education about addictions of all kinds.

The pressures of living on welfare and in a shelter are not to be taken lightly, even when sober. I made a mistake of returning to the work force too soon in my recovery. I relapsed and temporarily lost custody of my two youngest children.

The staff here all pulled together on my behalf and saw to it that I was placed in one of the best ATC's (Alcohol Treatment Centers) on Staten Island. After treatment, I was welcomed back, and I've been sober and happy. My daughters will be returned to me in April, and we have all been given a second chance, thanks to the competence and support of all the staff... at Hospitality House.

I'd like to extend my gratitude to this wonderful organization! — G.

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"I have also learned that I am not worthless and there is hope."

For two years now, I have been with Project Hospitality. I must say that I am grateful for the many positive changes in my life. I have come clean from drugs like heroin and crack, and I have detoxed from methadone since coming to Project Hospitality.

I have also learned that I am not worthless and that there is hope. I had been homeless and depressed, just walking around picking up cans and wanting to die. I was alone then. Now, I have learned to share my feelings with many other recovering addicts. I feel part of my depression has lifted. I have learned that I can live a better and normal life, clean and drug-free.

I have learned patience and tolerance. With my mental health so improved, I have set goals with the help of my counselor. I am now ready to attend college and look at getting a meaningful job. I also have attended New York City Technical College in the summer and did well.

During my stay at Project Hospitality, I have learned about art and poetry, and I have learned the feeling of joy. I have learned to laugh and to ask for help. I am somebody today. I have learned I'm not insane and today... I have support. — P.

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"One beautiful spring day, I was told that there might be an apartment available for me on Staten Island."

The Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need: the sun, the rain and the trees. The Lord is good to me, Hallelujah.

My family and I have been in the system for three years. I have lived in Hospitality House for the past ten months. Ashamed and alone, I began to trust again. The staff at Hospitality House began to provide for my needs and gave me hope. I began to regain my self-esteem and began to focus on getting my life back. The staff respected my confidentiality and my needs.

Unexpectedly, I was given the best news. I found out I was certified for an apartment. My caseworker helped me by contacting real estate brokers and making follow-up phone calls. One beautiful spring day, I was told that there might be an apartment available for me on Staten Island. I met the landlord, and today I am waiting to sign my lease. Thanks to Hospitality House, I now have my life back. — L.

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A New Beginning

Hello my name is S., and I am currently a resident at the Project Hospitality Transitional Housing Program called Neighborhood Homes. My stay here has exceeded my expectations. I have found hope inside my spirit, which I thought I had lost due to my use and abuse of drugs and alcohol. When I first arrived here six months ago, I was fearful and uncertain about what I wanted to do with my life. I could not imagine that things could be different.

Due to the care and concern from the staff, I began to become energized. Doubt and hopelessness were replaced with belief and confidence. With the help of my peers, I was inspired to pursue my goal of becoming a substance abuse counselor. I am attending classes...

I was also given the opportunity to give back by volunteering as a shelter coordinator. I can share my experiences about PH and be a beacon of light and hope for those who are starting out in this process.

I would like to thank PH for the privilege of having such a positive and rewarding experience. It is one I shall take with me as long as I have the breath of life. This program and staff are truly a godsend. — S.

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"I feel that this is the best place for my children and me. I am getting the help that I need to be a better parent for my children."

Hello, my name is V. I am writing in reference to Hospitality House and how it has helped me. It is a very good place for a mother to come off drugs. I came here for help, and help is what I got. The staff has been more than just staff; if I need them for anything, they are there. They have been my friends. Whenever I was in a bad situation, someone was there to help me to get out of it. If I need them for anything, they are there.

The other women here are good women too. If you don't have any family, the women make themselves your family. I have been here for six months. I feel that this is the best place for my children and me. I am getting the help that I need to be a better parent for my children. I thank Hospitality House with all my heart! — V.

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"It's been a struggling year for me... I can still remember when I was homeless, and I stumbled on the doorsteps of the shelter."

I am a consumer of Project Hospitality's Positive Living Program. I've struggled through grief, health problems, and relapse this year. I didn't know how to handle the losses of my loved ones. So I went back to drugs. Thank God I didn't lose my faith and hope. With the help of my Higher Power and PH staff, I managed to pick myself back up and continue seeking help through counseling, attending groups, and going back to my recovery meetings.

A special thanks to PH staff. They are helping me in every way they can. I am now a consumer in the Scatter Site Housing Program. I have a fully furnished apartment. PH staff have opened their arms and hearts to me. I am so grateful to have a new life with my new family at PH.

In return, I volunteer my time at the soup kitchen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I don't forget where I came from. I can still remember when I was homeless, and I stumbled on the doorsteps of the shelter.

Today, my son and I are closer than ever. I am proud of myself for accomplishing my short-term goals.

Unconditional love to all. — J.

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When I was asked to write a testimonial for Project Hospitality, I was more than happy to provide it. I was living in an SRO before I came to PH. I had just about given up hope of getting out of the SRO. The SRO was a "crack" hotel and one of the most depressing places I had ever seen.

My counselor had told me to call Project Hospitality. The Supportive Housing Director helped me do an intake the very next day. A social worker came and brought me to Staten Island. Two weeks later, I was placed in a shelter on Staten Island. My life began to change wonderfully.

I joined the Shine Center for both support groups and meals. Three weeks later, I moved into my new apartment. I can't say enough good things about the staff. I was always treated with concern, respect, and care at Project Hospitality. If it were not for the people at PH, I would either be dead or in jail. May God bless everyone at Project Hospitality. — M.


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