Maria was in her mid-50s when she decided to pick up her life in Texas and move to North Dakota with hopes of starting a new life. With only what they could fit in their small storage trailer, Maria and her daughter traveled to Minot, North Dakota. Her first job in ND was working at a retail store. She then decided she wanted to continue schooling to become a CNA.
After a few months in her new state, Maria discovered her daughter, who she had trusted to look after her best interest, had been stealing her money. She had left Maria with nothing but bad debt and a broken heart. Maria slept in her truck in parking lots throughout the city for weeks until she came to the YWCA with only her vehicle, a bag of clothes, and thousands of dollars of debt that she had no means of escaping.
Within a week of staying in our emergency shelter, Maria turned her heartache and betrayal into a desire to prove that she could pick herself up despite what she had experienced. She found a new job, saved her money, and decided she wanted to work on goals to live at the YWCA permanently. Maria now lives in her very own home in one of our permanent supportive housing units.
She is preparing for her annual trip to the Mexican border, where she delivers shoes to the impoverished children of Mexico. Despite having very little, Maria proves that with a little determination anything is possible.
***Maria’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
For some success is in black and white. A promotion at work, a raise, a title. For some of us though success can mean so many other things. Things like getting our first paycheck, finding a place to lay our head at night, a moment of compassion from another, getting our children back after we have stumbled. For some success is not measured in material as much as it is moments.
I got to meet a few beautiful ladies staying at our women's YWCA homeless shelter who by my measure have had amazing success. I would like to tell you a little about one of those women.
She is a mom, who didn't have her child with her in the shelter. Coming in to the YWCA with nowhere and no one to turn to. This amazing woman left with a steady job, her own apartment, and her child in hand. Now that is success. Growing up in an environment where everyone uses you, abuses you, and drugs can devastate someone for life. To break that cycle, ask for help, and rise above it is nothing short of amazing.
When I asked her what drove her to turn her life around she simply said to me "my child". If that isn't a reason I don't know what would be... I found out that she loves to color, and go to the park with her kiddo in their free time and that moving into their own place is only a start for her. One day she will continue her education and grow even farther. I asked her about the help she received from the ywca and the city of minot, to no surprise she told me about how the executive director of the YW helped her more then anyone else ever could have. Having the resources there on hand helped her not fall back into trying to depend on those who would only hurt her in the end.
Homeless comes from all walks of life. Losing your place to live does not discriminate and success is measured in moments.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing and meeting with some of the amazing women who have come through the shelter lately and i was blown away by the positive outlook and focus they have. They reminded me that no matter what has happen, is happening, or is going to happen.. all is never lost for good. I am going to be digging into this blog a little and getting dirty, cleaning it up, and updating some things so hold on to your pants. Things are about to get extremely real around here.
There is fresh meat on the board of directors along with some that have been around for sometime and i would say that maybe we are all up to no good but lets be honest, we are up to all the good! There will be new events to partake in, and success stories to read. I will be getting on here once a week and featuring somebody who has found their way or who has gone above and beyond in our community.
I also want to extend the chance for you to get involved. If you think you would make a good board member... let us know! If you have an idea that you think will benefit the homeless women and children of our community... let us know! If you have some time you would be willing to donate or even some spare change... don't be shy and let us know!
I also want to take the time to thank you for making time our of your busy schedules to read this, and considering what you could do to help. It means worlds to our community. -Joey
You will never see a more thrilled Executive Director than me watching the UPS guy pulling up to deliver a year’s supply worth of drug tests!! Thank you to the Minot Area Community Foundation for providing the YWCA with funding to purchase these tests. Many people who are living in Minot, and especially those who run various programs, will tell you that they have seen a prevalent drug problem with potential clientele. Because of the YWCA’s implementation of drug testing, we have seen a dramatic increase of success for those homeless women who want something better in their life. The YWCA’s Board of Directors and the very small team of staff members can be proud of the level of service provided and by our shelter program. We can say we are proud of the women who are successful in finding jobs and housing in the community of Minot, and who can say that they were not influenced by drug/alcohol use and the chaotic lifestyle that can accompany that behavior. At the YWCA shelter here, we have already seen a total of 7 failed drug tests for women really needing our services. This does not count the number of calls that we have had from potential residents who admit over the phone to not being able to pass a drug test and therefore cannot utilize the YWCA services. We have seen a variety of different drugs come up in our testing. The sad reality is that women are not getting the services they need due to addiction. Minot has a select few places we can refer those who cannot get into the YWCA, but often times they do not follow through. It’s probably hard enough to admit to using drugs to a stranger, and then to have to go somewhere else and tell another stranger can be really overwhelming.
I am sharing this story because in the 2 short years that I have been the Executive Director here at the Minot YWCA we have gone from allowing anyone to utilize our services in the hope that clients will come in and consider our facility as community living and therefore abstain from drug use, to now requiring a negative drug test result before intake. To hope that residents simply abstain is not realistic, as addiction is a bigger beast than people may realize. Since the implementation of drug testing, yes, we have seen a decrease in admissions, however the outcomes and the success rates far outweigh numbers. We did still serve 109 women and children last year, more than 2014.
Now, homeless individuals that come to us for help can be guaranteed a safe, quality place to live for their children and be given the opportunity to better their lives in all ways possible including holding clients accountable for their behaviors. Again, THANK YOU to Minot Area Community Foundation for helping the YWCA remain a drug-free, alcohol free environment that works to empower homeless women and their children! We could not succeed without your help!"
The YWCA is proud to tell you about our most recent success story. A single grandparent household has just moved into her own apartment. This woman came to North Dakota to be with family, and when she arrived with one of her daughters and three grandchildren, her plans for a place to live fell through. They had traveled far, and tried to make it work by finding jobs and looking for apartments that they could afford. Her daughter had decided that trying to force her situation was not worth what she left behind in her home state, so she packed up and left with two of her children. After a very hard goodbye, Grandma and one of her grandchildren moved into the shelter.
The YWCA learned so much about the triumphs this woman had been through. She was not perfect, but she was honest about those imperfections. This woman served as “grandma” to all the residents living in the YWCA shelter, and tried to offer advice and wisdom to many younger women.
Finally, after a long wait here in North Dakota, an apartment came through for her and her grandchild. The YWCA was able to help her with clothing, all the necessities, and help filling out assistance applications, so that her and her grandchild would have the very best possible chance at success. The YWCA was also able to help pay for her deposit and some rent to get her started, and she is now out on her own……grandchild in tow. This woman is a true story of perseverance, resiliency, and has the belief that if she does the right things, good things will happen. If you are interested in this woman’s full story, she has agreed to share it at the YWCA Women of Distinction Banquet - tickets available here. It will be a story of inspiration and change you won’t want to miss it!
A woman came to the YWCA as a referral from another shelter in the area. She had been through many life struggles, health issues, and traumatic experiences. While at the YWCA, her health continued to deteriorate and she was trying everything she could to feel better, including going to multiple doctors and getting different results at every appointment. I could see it was taking a bigger toll on her as she was attempting to get some solutions to her problems.
"This woman was grateful for every last bit of help and encouragement, and I could not help but cry when she left."
Throughout her journey here, the YWCA was able to help her with co-pays and prescription medications/supplements, transportation, and even a deposit on a place to call her own. Without any family in the area for support, she remained very positive. Ups and Downs are normal, but with all the confirmed medical issues, she still tried to see the positive in everything! She moved into her own place and it was a bittersweet goodbye for me. This woman was grateful for every last bit of help and encouragement, and I could not help but cry when she left. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't get too attached, but this one was different. I don't know many people who would have been able to stay positive and still manage to laugh and see the bright side of life after having gone through what she had. I feel grateful to have met her and I wish her nothing but the best of luck, with an attitude like that, she will succeed in anything she does.......I just hope she stays in touch so I can see!
A big thank you to our grantors who enable us to help in the way we do! Successes like these are what keeps the YWCA going and without you we would not be able to make a positive impact on women's lives in the community of Minot.
We wanted to dedicate a blog post to Mainstream Boutique for a few different reasons. Firstly, because they recently celebrated their 2 year anniversary (congratulations!!), and kindly involved the YWCA Minot in the celebrations! Secondly, because Mainstream Boutique and owner Pam Karpenko have continually supported the YWCA Minot, and we wanted to highlight just how much she, and her business, have done to help empower women and tackle homelessness in Minot, North Dakota.
Below is a timeline of donations Mainstream Boutique have given to the YWCA Minot, and events they have involved us in!
Mainstream Boutique donated dozens of items of clothing for the women living in our shelter! These items of clothing were brand new, and the women had so much fun 'shopping' for much needed clothes. The impact of this donation was even featured on the local news, and you can read more about that here.
Mainstream Boutique donated more clothing to the YWCA Minot!
On November 14th the YWCA Board of Directors and staff members participated in the yearly Board Retreat. After attending Margie's Art Glass Studio and getting creative, we were let loose downtown for a Scavenger Hunt! Mainstream Boutique agreed to be involved, and below is a picture of one of the teams with Pam Karpenko!
Pam Karpenko, Jodi Stewart, and Carol & Gary Hovdestad donated a brand new refrigerator to our homeless shelter! It fits perfectly and looks great. It was an exciting day for the women receiving this!
Mainstream Boutique-Minot celebrated their 2-year anniversary! They included the YWCA Minot in their celebrations, and encouraged customers to donate cleaning supplies to give to us. Congratulations to your success in Minot thus far and we are so grateful to you and your customers for the support and kindness that you continue to offer the women in our homeless shelter!