I never thought in a million years that I would be homeless.

I was just living my life. I had a good job for 25 years. I retired and ended up caring for my ailing mother. After suffering a heart attack, my health deteriorated. I couldn’t work, couldn’t afford anywhere to live and didn’t know where to find help. I ended up on the street.

I used to wait in front of a store and beg for money to buy food. To stand in front of a place full of food and not be able to buy any of it for myself, that was hard. Every night, I searched for a safe, warm place to sleep. It’s scary to lie somewhere you don’t feel safe or secure, but I had no choice. On cold winter nights, my trick was to sleep on empty milk cartons so I wouldn’t freeze on the frozen ground.

After nine months living outside, I finally found a day program that gave me food, warm clothes and a bus pass. I got a case manager who helped me get an Illinois State ID. I got into an emergency overnight shelter where I could sleep inside, get breakfast and dinner, take a shower, access health services and continue case management. I finally felt like I could set goals for myself again.

My biggest goal was to have a key to my own place again. When I came to Deborah’s Place, they showed me the apartment like they would if I had money, like I was looking to buy it. When I first got here, I ran the tub and just sat in it for three hours. It was the most fantastic night I’d had in a long time. There was food in the fridge and in the cabinet. I had no money and no food before. This place had everything I needed.

Now that I have a safe, stable place to live, I’ve been able to work on other goals. My health is very important to me, and now I have access to the resources I need to really improve. I’ve been working with Danielle, the Health Services Associate, on getting healthy. As a homeless person, my health wasn’t important to me, I was surviving. But now I know it’s so important.

Danielle gives me guidance on how to make healthy choices and supports me in all my efforts. I really wanted to lose weight, so she got me into a health class where I learned the best foods for me to eat and to avoid. I started out slowly, cutting out something every month – January was potato chips, February was pop, March was bread – something new each month. I’ve lost over 20 pounds so far, and I’m just going to keep going! I don’t want to stop working on my health, and I don’t want to stop making goals.

You can help women like Trudy achieve their goals – make a donation today!

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