*Featured in the Spring 2017 Newsletter
Gloria still remembers the day her little boy, who wasn’t so little anymore, came running back into her life out of seemingly nowhere. “MOM! This is where you’ve been all this time!? Everybody’s been looking for you!” Tears streamed down Gloria’s face as she realized how depression and drug use had taken over her life, isolating her from everyone and everything she loved, including the young man now standing before her. For most of her life, Gloria had a relatively stable and happy existence. She held down multiple jobs to raise her son the best way that she could. Life wasn’t perfect, but Gloria worked hard for what she had and was unapologetically hopeful for the future. Unfortunately, the life she had built for herself and her son hadn’t lasted forever.
After putting everything she had into her second marriage, including the equity from the sale of the townhouse that she had owned for 17 years, Gloria once again found herself a single mother. Initially, she tried to be strong for her son, Jonathan. However, the depression she had struggled with since childhood gripped her tighter than ever before and refused to let go. Most days, all she wanted to do was sleep. As her condition worsened, Gloria eventually lost custody of Jonathan, the person she loved most in the world. She lost the will to work and eventually lost even the small apartment in which she was living. Feeling like there was no escaping her situation, Gloria decided one night to swallow a handful of pills and wash them down with cleaning solution. A day later, she woke up in the mental health ward of a hospital, in complete disbelief that she was alive.
Over the next several years, Gloria was admitted to the hospital dozens of times as she sought treatment for her depression. Each time she was discharged, she returned to the streets since she had no home to go to. Gloria needed stability to help her recover her life, but as her vicious cycle of homelessness continued, she lost sight of who she once was. Addiction took hold of her and she lived in a state of constant panic. Her family tried to help, but Gloria disappeared for months, even years, at a time, only to resurface and repeat the pattern. It would take a chance encounter with her son for Gloria to decide that something had to change. That day, Gloria was waiting at the bus stop for her drug dealer to arrive. Hearing the pain in Jonathan’s voice and seeing the sadness in his face as he ran over to her from across the street, screaming “MOM!”, chilled Gloria to her core. She wanted to be worthy of that title again, but knew that it would be impossible without help. Gloria decided, then and there, that she would do whatever it took to be in her son’s life again.
Gloria was referred to Pathways to Housing DC in May of 2016 after working with another organization for months that couldn’t help her with housing. She immediately met with her new mental health team and within two weeks found herself out in the community looking at apartments. Soon after, she moved into a home of her own and is now actively working on her mental health and addiction. For Gloria, it was a dream come true. One of Gloria’s first priorities after moving in was to decorate her new apartment so that she could invite her son Jonathan, and the granddaughter she had never met into her home for dinner each week. Although every day is a challenge, Gloria is committed to making up for lost time to be both the mother and, now, grandmother that her family deserves. Gloria has the stability of a home and the support of her team at Pathways. On her refrigerator, Gloria keeps a constant reminder of why she continues to push forward: a card, given to her by Jonathan on the day she moved into her new home after years of being on the streets. Inside the colorful congratulations card, a handwritten note reads simply: “Home is where Mom is.”