The meaning of the word “respite” has a deep personal significance for Sara, a woman who sought out refuge and safety at Catholic Charities women’s emergency shelter in Imperial County called House of Hope. This shelter, which serves as a respite from the streets to unattached women and single mothers, offers 24 beds (20 adult beds and 4 cribs) as well as references to employment, medical doctors, job training, counseling, and social services to women from all over Imperial County looking for shelter and above all hope.
When there are no beds available, House of Hope offers as much as they can through donations and in the very least, a warm hearty meal. Although this is a temporary stay, the women who come here often make it their home. It is a place they can feel safe, taken care of, and supported by their community, something often taken for granted and seen as the norm.
Sara is one of those women who came through their doors searching for a way out. Suffering from substance abuse and losing her family ties and support, she came desperately looking for shelter and respite. She craved to be reunited with her family and leave her abusive relationship but the shelter unfortunately had no beds available. Broken and in despair, the staff spoke with her and listened, they came to realize they could help in some way and decided to take her in and help reunite her with her family.
Lupe Rodriguez, Director of Outreach in Imperial County, began the search on Facebook and Google and found her sister who lived in the Midwest. She located them and made the call to her sister explaining the situation, and asked if she would like to see Sara. After some convincing, the sister agreed to let Sara come live with her under the conditions that she seek help and treatment through a homeless shelter program in the community. House of Hope located the right shelter and assistance for Sara in the MidWest, printed the Greyhound bus ticket her sister bought for her, and gave her a care package with food and water for the long bus ride back home.
To this day Sara and her sister call Lupe at House of Hope to give updates on her well-being. From the beginning, Sara found a shelter and took the right steps to healing and caring for herself. She went to AA meetings and worked through the program. She now has her own apartment and is repairing her relationship with her sister. Looking back on it now Lupe mentions, “Although it’s been several months since we have heard from them, we cannot forget the person that came to us that day. Crying in desperation that she wanted the help and had no one to turn to, but we were there to offer our assistance.”
Catholic Charities House of Hope helps many families each year by referring young women and new mothers to housing, employment, medical doctors, job training, counseling, and social services. Although beds might not always be available for everyone who comes through their doors, this haven offers them what they can through donations and meals. Sara is only one of the 108 families who have been helped at House of Hope last year.