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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

“If I didn’t get her on the phone, I wouldn’t be where I am today”

Marie* never expected to find herself without a place to sleep at night.

As the owner of a beauty business providing hair and makeup services to advertising and commercial organizations, Marie said she had always felt secure in her housing situation. She and her son lived in an apartment in Everett for nearly a decade until the COVID pandemic escalated and restrictions forced Marie to stop offering in-person services.

Money became tight, leaving Marie no choice but to close her business. On top of being unable to work, inflation was causing the price of living to steadily rise every day.

“I reached out to a rental assistance company who offered me financial aid, because paying rent was a priority, but my landlord would not accept it,” said Marie. “My son and I had to leave, and we didn’t know where to go.”

While staying with friends and sleeping on couches, Marie worked tirelessly to determine her next steps, reaching out to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

“Even after reaching out, the whole process felt like a puzzle,” she said. “It felt like there was no one who could help me and nowhere for us to go.”

Finally, Marie came upon Catholic Charities Boston and reached out to the Basic Needs Office in Lynn. Basic Needs Case Manager Yuri Sanchez-Rijo answered right away.

“Yuri was the first person to truly listen to me and was so kind and so understanding. She explained the process and answered all of my questions. I can’t even begin to express it – I felt so much better after talking with her. I had felt very hopeless, but after that call with her, I felt hope. I thought this could work,” said Marie.

From offering resources for basic needs support, to demystifying the process of working with DTA, Yuri helped Marie to advocate for herself and her son in finding housing.

“Yuri just kept saying, ‘We are not going to give up. We keep going until we find something.’ If I didn’t get her on the phone that day, I wouldn’t be where I am right now,” said Marie.

This summer, their hard work paid off and Marie and her son moved into an affordable housing complex for women and children in Gloucester.

“We are loving it,” Marie said. “It is peaceful living in a quieter town, just a short walk from the ocean.”

Having recently become certified as a conscious parenting coach, Marie is currently looking for opportunities to teach parents and children the power of mindfulness, breathwork, emotional intelligence, and meditation techniques. She said she learns from her son every day.

“There is no better feeling than picking him up from school, seeing him happy, and being able to share my time with him,” she said. “He is my number one reason for everything.”

*In respect of the sensitivity of real-life experiences shared within the story clients are referred to by their first or middle names only to protect their privacy.

To learn more about how you can support clients like Marie and her son, click here.

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