We first heard the story of these three brothers at our Hope Harbour site visit. The boys and their mom were running from an abusive father with no where to go. No one in their area would house the whole family as the boys were too old. That is how they found Hope Harbour and this is their story. Keep reading to hear their original story from their Mother. United Way is proud of the work our community partners do every single day and are happy to work hand in hand with them to build a more resilient Chattahoochee Valley.
“Our family got here in January of 2020 and ever since we walked into the door at Hope Harbour we received nothing but love and support. The six months we stayed, we got clothes and food, and anything possible that Hope Harbour could help us with. After six months, we found our own apartment. Through the transition, Hope Harbour was still there helping us out with anything we needed like getting into school and helping our oldest brother stay on track. They have been nothing but love and support since day one.
Ever since we left the shelter, Hope Harbour has still reached out to us with stuff (rent & utilities) and we have been able to come back and play basketball and have fun with a lot of the staff. Basically, they have been the most supportive people that we have had in a while.
Hope Harbour is kind of like its own family, you get love and support from everyone in the building – no matter how you are feeling. The staff will come talk with you about anything that you need to talk about and anything that you need support with.”
As a wife, I have been a victim of domestic violence for over 10 years. When I got to Hope Harbour, I heard a group leader say “It takes almost 7 times for a woman to escape her abuser” and I was one of those women. I would run away. My husband would find me or call my phone and say “I am sorry” and I would come back home.
I would come back hating myself for coming home. I would come back too afraid for my children; I was worried about struggling financially without his income. I would be ashamed of how others would see me having 4 boys and no man to raise them.
One day our landlord came by the house and gave me a dose of reality. My husband was behind on the rent and the landlord was going to take my husband to court. All of my dreams of one day owning a home were gone, all of the money that I had given my husband, all of the businesses I had helped him with – they were wasted and filled with lies.
That night we had a huge fight about the money and the lies – it left me with a big black eye. This night my oldest son got involved and tried to stop the fight. My husband threatened to kill us both and I had to snap out of it. I had to leave for a better life for my boys; for real this time. My boys needed a better picture of life that did not include the fighting and the violence.
I ran to the furthest city that public transportation would take us. My boys and I stayed in a hotel. When our money ran out, the manager of the hotel allowed me to clean rooms in exchange for a place to stay. It was a safe place for my children. When a new manger took over – he didn’t allow me to clean and we were kicked out of the hotel. With no money we started sleeping behind a church close to the hotel. During the day we would try to sell some of our valuable for money and food, and then at night we would go back to the church to sleep.
Early one morning a man found us sleeping behind the church and reported us to the church pastor. Thank God for grace – I thought he was going to call the police because he seemed mad that we were there but instead he let us sleep inside the church. The next morning he drove us to a shelter in Atlanta that he thought was for families but it was only for adult males. After we were turned away he drove us to another shelter. The lady at the shelter told the pastor that they did help women and children so he left us there. During our intake, I was informed that they could not help us because my boys were too old and teenagers were not allowed in their program. The staff member at this shelter thought that it would be best for all of us to fully relocate away from Atlanta so that we could really be safe. They contacted Hope Harbour – at the end of the day we were on a greyhound bus to Columbus. During all of this my husband was still calling me and looking for me – He was “sorry” again.
I was scared to travel to a new city. I was nervous not knowing what was going to happen to me and my boys but thank God for Hope Harbour. It has been a place of love and healing ever since.
Having 4 boys is quite a struggle for anyone; having 4 teenage sons in this situation brought me to a new point of view on real life.
Since being here – my boys have struggled with transitioning from home life to shelter life and starting new schools. Discipline has been a struggle. When we were with my husband he referred to them as “little men” – they got to do things and get away with things that I didn’t agree with and sometimes they were really disrespectful to me because they saw my husband do these things. They all have a lot of anger because of the things that we have been through.
Since we have been at Hope Harbour I have seen big changes in all 4 of my boys. We have more family time; we eat together and spend more time just talking. We are in family counseling and this is helping us all cope better with the anger we have and has given us ways to deal with stress. The boy’s school work has improved. Our daily routine has a better overall balance – we have learned better time management and I have been working with my advocate on goals.
Since being here we have gotten everything that we have needed: food, clothing, hygiene products. Hope Harbour has helped me find a job, transported my boys to school and to different appointments, provided childcare while I was working, helped us get birth certificates and social security cards and will be helping us with housing.
We have all learned a lot from our journey to Hope Harbour and because of the services and support they are providing we are looking forward to our future.
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