A Defining Chapter: How Shannon and Her Family Stuck Together at Solutions
2009 was shaping up to be a tough year for the Vincent family. Shannon knew that any day could be the day a marshal showed up to serve their eviction notice. They were holding on to their apartment by a thread, so Shannon made one last attempt to avoid losing their home.
“I took our tax return and gave all of it to our landlord,” Shannon said. “It wasn’t enough. And now we were completely broke.”
Shannon was terrified that her children would have to face homelessness, but she didn’t see any other option. All the local shelters she knew of didn’t accept men, women and children all together.
“We would rather be homeless and together than go to a shelter and get split up,” Shannon said. “So we just braced ourselves for that eviction notice.”
In the meantime, Shannon’s eldest daughter spotted a billboard for Solutions for Change. She took note of the phone number on the ad and encouraged her mother to give Solutions a call. Solutions took in entire families, and could be a chance for the Vincents to stick together.
Shannon reached out to Solutions, explained her situation and landed a spot in Solutions Academy for her and her husband. The very same day the marshal came to evict them, the Vincents moved into Solutions for Change.
“When we got to Solutions, we had nothing,” Shannon said. “We had some clothes and belongings, but we were penniless. After the series of bad choices that brought us to this point, Solutions felt like a breath of fresh air. I’ve never felt so welcomed in my life.”
Shannon and her family settled into an apartment on campus and quickly joined into the routine of Solutions Academy: Get up, send the kids off to school and head over to employment-related training (ERT). ERT filled the morning with team-based work activities like maintaining the Solutions campus and caring for Solutions Farms. After Shannon completed work, she would attend a variety of classes through the afternoon.
“We took a childcare course and a class that gave us tools to handle conflict and a bunch of other really useful classes,” Shannon said. “Once you pass the classes, you can start looking for a job outside Solutions. With the knowledge from class combined with the ERT, my husband and I felt so prepared to go out and look for employment again.”
The Vincent family continued to grow through Solutions Academy, gradually becoming closer with the Solutions community. Shannon’s husband found a job, and Shannon was offered an opportunity she was thrilled to take.
“I got asked to be a manager of the Solutions apartment complex,” Shannon said. “I went from the brink of homelessness to the manager of an apartment building full of people I care about. Plus, my work as a manager meant we didn’t have to pay rent, so we got to focus on clearing out debts and starting fresh instead. The Vincents arrived as students, and grew into leaders and valuable community members. Their youngest daughter was 4 years old when they came to Solutions and 13 when they moved out—she grew up in the stability and peace of the Solutions community.
Looking back over the past 12 years, Shannon recalls how her case managers and the faith of the whole Solutions team were pivotal in her life. Everyone united behind the belief that Shannon and her family could create a better life for themselves, and that support propelled them through to success.
“Our case manager Kelly was one of the main reasons we succeeded, I think,” Shannon said. “She worked with us one-on-one and always had our back. Chris is so pure-hearted in his mission to help people out of homelessness, and his intention and drive is in all the case managers too. And that motivation spreads to us.”
Shannon’s husband now has a steady job and they live in their own apartment with their youngest daughter, who is getting straight A’s in high school. While they miss their Solutions community, they are grateful for the years they got to spend with Solutions and their current ability to live entirely independently.
“Solutions was there at the perfect time in the perfect place. Before them, there was no light at the end of the tunnel,” Shannon said. “But now we’re out of the dark. And 12 years on, I still tell myself to suit up and show up every day.”