At the start of the pandemic, I lost my job as a full-time nail technician. Two months later, the Allegheny County Health Department deemed my duplex unsafe due to mice infestation.
My eight-year-old son and I moved in with my mom for a short time. Since my stepfather died, our relationship had been strained and unhealthy. There were good days, and there were bad days. Soon the bad days outweighed the good, so I moved in with my aunt because I didn’t want him growing up in that type of environment.
Not long after, my son and I tested positive for COVID-19. Our symptoms weren’t bad, but my aunt was dealing with pre-existing health conditions, and for her safety, she asked us to leave.
My son’s school counselor recommended an apartment complex downtown. The building was participating in a grant-funded program where they would accept homeless and COVID-positive families. We were welcomed, moved in, and things seemed to be settling down. A month later, we were told the funding for the program ran out. Once again, we had to pick up and go.
My son’s school counselor then recommended HEARTH. And, thank goodness she did. We moved in right before Christmas, which was an emotional moment because it meant my son would have a home for the holidays.
The staff is incredible. Even though I had just moved in, they still gave Christmas decorations to hang up and even some gifts to put under the tree. After the holidays, they helped me find full-time employment as a CDC customer service representative. The position is temporary, but the peace of mind that comes from having a steady paycheck is worth it.
My son is thriving! He loves the facility and all the things available to him. He used to be so shy, and I worried about him developing his social skills. Now, I hardly know if he’s coming or going. He has friends here, and together they keep busy with different activities HEARTH plans for them. It’s clear he just needed the stability and freedom to be a kid again.
The fact that I, along with all of HEARTH’s support, can provide that for him motivates me to work harder towards the successful path that I’m on.
Our experience here has uplifted me and allowed me to regain my confidence, my self-esteem. I’m incredibly thankful for HEARTH and know they’ll always be in my corner as I move forward.