The Homeless Center for Strafford County provides seasonal overnight shelter to single women and families. Almost half the people staying in the shelter are children – nearly all under five years old. Susan Ford directs the shelter and understands her clients’ first-hand.
Susan: I had two little kids, found myself homeless, and ended up going to a homeless shelter in the area. At that point I had a high-school diploma and cosmetology degree. I had gotten my degree thinking I was going to be married and this would be a great stay at home job; I could work out of my house and raise my kids. It’s not that easy when you’re single. With two children living in a car in the winter I probably would’ve lost my kids, I probably would’ve had my kids taken away because I didn’t have any place to go; I literally didn’t have any place to go.
If it wasn’t for the shelter I wouldn’t be where I am today, I really wouldn’t, not just in my professional life but in my personal life. I hope to inspire people who come through the shelter to know that this isn’t it, this isn’t your life, this is just a snapshot in your life, and that you can make of your life whatever you want. I know all the stressors that they’re going through, and I know how hard it is; I wasn’t just homeless as a single individual, I was homeless with two small children.
I went from being homeless to owning my own home in seven years, and that’s, I think, a great feat. I got my bachelors degree. I’m not the exception to the rule, I’m just one person - it could’ve been anybody.