In December 2013, Candice Thomas felt anything but hopeful. She had moved to Georgia for a job, but the position was eliminated before her first day. She relied on limited support from family, but then college student loans kicked in, and she soon found herself staying at a homeless shelter with her four-year-old daughter, Cadence.
“I was in survival mode,” said Candice. “It gets one through a tough time. I told my daughter that we were going on an adventure; we would be staying at dorms for a little while until I found a place for us to live. My daughter pretended it was a sleepover. Not until we moved into The Children’s Home did I cry.”
The Children’s Home Family Housing Program protects and preserves families at risk of homelessness. The program provides a safe place to stay, as well as support including case-management services, budget and employment counseling. When families leave the program, they are both financially and emotionally stable and move into their own home.
“We arrived at The Children’s Home just before Christmas,” said Candice. “It was overwhelming. The staff had decorated our new home for the holidays, and there were presents wrapped under a Christmas tree for my daughter, labeled as if they were from me. It was my daughter’s first real Christmas.”
With support from the Home, Candice has found a full-time job as a social worker. She is working to improve her credit, manage her time and take care of herself. She has cut out negative friends and set boundaries for some of her family members.
Candice exudes confidence and positive energy, and one can tell just by talking to her that she will achieve her goals. She is a risk taker – having grown up in extreme poverty in Florida, the youngest of 16 children – she had nothing to lose.
She also is determined. She hopes to begin work soon toward her master’s degree so she can be a licensed clinical social worker in a private practice. And her daughter has started tumbling, so that she can be a cheerleader in a few years.
“I grew up struggling, but now I know what it means to thrive,” she said. “I know I can make it through all this and still be happy. Prayer helps, having something to stand on, something you believe in, whatever it may be. And I am in love with my daughter.”
Candice recently achieved one very important personal goal – she and Cadence finally found their first real home in time for Christmas – they moved out of The Children’s Home in early December.
Please give today to help other families in need this holiday season:
At a glance:
Family Preservation Services
Our Family Preservation Services – family counseling education, parenting classes, financial aid and the residential Family Housing Program – help families stay together and become stronger.
In 2014, The Children’s Home has served 20 families through the Family Housing Program. Each family stays in one of the Home’s 13 townhomes for an average of 18 months before moving on to a higher level of independence.
More than 450 families have received emergency financial aid to avoid utility cut off or eviction this year, and more than 65 families have taken part in counseling or parenting education.