Simone’s childhood took place somewhere between living with her homeless mother and going in and out of foster care. Despite her unstable living conditions, she graduated from high school, got married, and had three children. However, her marriage became a domestic violence situation, and she felt trapped. In 2010, she found the courage to call the police and send her abuser to jail. As a single mother, she was unable to care for the children, so they went to live with her parent’s in-law in Arizona.
Simone says she remained in Colorado Springs because “it was the only place I knew how to survive being broke.” Although she had a string of food service jobs to support herself, it was not enough to keep her from being in and out of homelessness. At 28, she gave birth to a fourth child. By this time, she knew her life would not support her family, but she couldn’t seem to break the cycle of poverty.
Eventually, Simone began visiting Catholic Charities’ Family Day Center, where she and the baby found refuge during the day. “The services Catholic Charities offers basically saved me,” Simone insisted. While trained volunteers watch her child in the Child Watch room, Simone accesses the Life Skills and Career Development Center. Sherry Stulpin, Life Skills Instructor, helped Simone plot a plan that led to employment in a managerial position with one of Catholic Charities’ hiring partners. She also received help to find transitional housing.
Although Catholic Charities’ emergency services help Simone save money by providing diapers, formula, food, and clothing, she still struggles to make ends meet. On the weekends, she can’t afford childcare and must rely on the homeless father to care for their child. She hopes to save enough money to move to an apartment downtown so her child can stay indoors and she won’t have to spend four hours a day on the bus commuting to work.
Despite the stress of her daily life, Simone is already setting goals for the future. She secured a loan for college and is taking online classes toward a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Entrepreneurship. In the evenings, she uses her phone as a hotspot for her laptop to take classes. With eight years of experience in food service, she hopes to open her own restaurant someday.
For someone caught in the cycle of poverty, sometimes all it takes is a little personalized attention to begin taking the steps toward a better life. “I didn’t know how to be a functioning adult when I got out of foster care,” Simone admitted, “I’d grown up living like everybody else on the streets. Catholic Charities taught me how to be an adult.”