St. Ambrose Staff Help Family Find Permanent Home
When April arrived at Catholic Charities Boston’s St. Ambrose Family Shelter in Dorchester, she never expected to find a sense of community.
“We were very nervous,” April said. “We had two small rooms, but we had a place to cook and keep our food. We had a place to put our heads and sleep and weren’t living on the street. That’s all that mattered.”
A single stay-at-home mother of four children, April had spent the past 20 years of her life living in an apartment in Leominster. However, when a new landlord took over and decided to renovate the apartment, the family was forced to leave. They temporarily moved in with April’s sister, but in August of 2022 eventually found themselves at the Leominster police station, with nowhere to go.
“The stress of knowing you are homeless and not in control is a huge culture shock,” said April. “We were told we would have to go wherever a spot opened up.”
Days later, April and her two youngest children arrived at St. Ambrose Family Shelter in Dorchester, with no clear understanding of what the future held.
Week by week, however, April said the St. Ambrose staff grew from being a group of strangers to a tight-knit team of mentors who April said worked tirelessly to ensure her family felt supported.
“If I had to do it all by myself, I would be so overwhelmed,” said April. “It is amazing how much paperwork finding housing requires, but my case managers made it possible. They helped me to really focus.”
Beyond helping April to navigate the complicated process of finding housing, amid the state-wide housing crisis, St. Ambrose Case Manager Linda Skerry encouraged April to seek out a local job that would help her get back on her feet.
“I ended up getting a job at a Dorchester Price Rite, a couple blocks from the shelter, where I still work today. I love the people I work with,” April said.
St. Ambrose staff also helped April’s two youngest children enroll in Boston Public Schools. While the transition to a new school system in a more urban area was challenging at times, having a warm place to come home to and a supportive team of staff there to help made it easier.
“The shelter made a meal for Thanksgiving, and for Christmas, they had a party for all the residents. It was amazing. All the moms got together and cooked for everyone, and on Christmas Day, we all got together in the dining room. That was probably the closest thing to family or home that we had felt in a long time.” said April.
Still, even with a newfound support system and the guidance of St. Ambrose staff, finding housing continued to be a daunting challenge. When April learned that her mother had passed away, her hope began to waver.
The very next day, she got a call from Linda.
“I was so tired, and I was discouraged, but Linda asked me to come downstairs, and she told me they had officially found an apartment for us to move into – just one day after my mother passed away,” said April.
Shortly later, April and her children packed up their things, said their goodbyes, and moved into their new home in Quincy.
“We have three bedrooms now, a washer and dryer, a living room, closets, our own kitchen, and we are just a two-minute walk to the ocean,” said April. “It’s so beautiful and quiet. It’s the perfect situation for me and my kids.”
While no longer living at St. Ambrose, April remains a part of the shelter’s stabilization program and continues to meet with stabilization program case manager Nicole Heniger.
“It is very rewarding to see these families come into the shelter and be able to watch them find housing and stay in touch with them and make sure they’re doing okay,” said Nicole.
“I still see St. Ambrose staff and residents we knew coming through the lines at my work,” April said. “It’s nice. I’m very happy.”
*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 April and her family, click here.