Clothilda came to St. Joseph the Worker during the summer of 2020 with the intention of simply getting a bus pass to help her get to and from work. Frustrated by the paperwork she had to fill out to obtain her transportation assistance, she, she grew impatient left our office. If there is one thing you should know about St. Joseph the Worker, however, it is that we don’t give up on any of our clients. A month later, SJW reached out to Clothilda to invite her to apply for our new Employment Bridge Program, which supplies our homeless clients with housing, budget coaching, and transportation assistance to and from their jobs. She was resistant at first, but SJW’s bonafide combination of patience and inspiration led Clothilda to become one of the first participants in our Employment Bridge pilot program in August.
Today, Clothilda is the first person from our Employment Bridge Program to move into her own apartment. A free woman, she now lives independently and without the constant stresses of being homeless or living in a shelter. However, this was no easy task for her or SJW’s team. As you would imagine, Clothilda had many obstacles to overcome on journey to independence.
Clothilda has experienced homelessness multiple times throughout her life. Before finding SJW, she had been staying at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) for about two months. She has always been a hard-working employee and has consistently landed well-paying jobs, but in the words of Sue, our Employment Bridge Coordinator, “Clothilda would rather be homeless and support her kids than have her own apartment.” Even while staying in a shelter, Clothilda religiously sent money to support her children at the expense of her own future. The Bridge program forced her to save money for herself so she can support herself and be the mother her kids need her to be. After a few weeks in the program, Clothilda saved an amazing $2,000. Unfortunately, one weekend she was overcome with the stress of maintaining her success and gambled all her savings away. She checked herself out of The Lodge, where SJW was providing her housing, and back into CASS. Quickly, Sue intervened.
Sue and Clothilda had an open conversation that allowed Clothilda to be honest about her struggle with gambling addiction, and Sue was able to help her. After understanding this was her final chance with the program, Clothilda saved 100% of her paychecks during the remaining months she had left in the Bridge Program, bringing her total savings above $3,000 in a few short months. Today, she came into the office and surprised Sue with amazing news: she was approved for an apartment and can move in tomorrow!
Clothilda is determined. She knows what she wants, and she will not let anything, or anyone, stand in her way. Sometimes her determination has hindered her ability to succeed more than it has helped her to thrive. This time, she has persevered.
It seems that if something can go wrong for Clothilda, it will. Since our last check in with her, Clothilda has been faced with some troubles. She faced a major health scare at the start of the year. For months, doctors were unsure what was going on with her body. She ended up hospitalized for a few days while they were running diagnostics. In the end, it turned out that there were issues with her stomach, but they were manageable. Clothilda reached out to the Employment Bridge Team to notify them about the chaos. Because Clothilda is still in her year of Aftercare after successfully transitioning into her own apartment, St. Joseph the Worker was able to assist her in obtaining some “bland food” – her doctor’s orders upon her discharge. While nursing herself back to health, she received worse news. Her company decided to close the production plant where she was working. She was laid off. Immediately, she contacted the Employment Bridge team to help her look for work once again. They told her to come into the office the next day to start looking for work. That afternoon, SJW staff updated her resume, provided her with job leads, and assisted her on the computer. She is currently in the process of submitting applications and looks forward to getting back to work. She enjoyed working for Honeywell and is trying to find another position in one of their facilities again.
Not all hope is lost. Regardless of these two major events in her life, Clothilda is doing well otherwise. She has lived in her apartment for over six months. She still budgets her money like she learned in the Bridge Program and has emergency savings available. Now that she is in her own place, she no longer has the expense of her storage unit and has more funds freed up during the month. Clothilda no longer gambles and has curbed her drinking. She still sets goals for herself, too. In the short term, she wants to get hired back on at Honeywell. In the long term, she wants to own her own house. She attributes much of her success to the Bridge Program. She is grateful for the team’s support, even all these months after she left the motel. Whenever Clothilda is stressed or worried about work on money, she will call Sue. St. Joseph the Worker is committed to ensuring our clients succeed, even after they transition out of our direct supervision. Like Clothilda, they know that they are always welcome to come back and utilize our services if the need arises.
Clothilda is resilient, a dedicated worker, and a fighter. We know that these obstacles will not stand in the way on maintaining the success she was worked so hard to achieve. We will be with her to celebrate the success when they come.