"I am so happy, absolutely happy, to be in this place," Rhonda said soon after her move into the cozy three-room cottage. "I never expected to get a place like this."
For Rhonda, any home at all was a welcome respite after a devastating divorce fueled her ongoing struggle with mental illness and substance abuse — and resulted in three years of homelessness. But today, thanks to her commitment to drug treatment and OHI's commitment to finding her a safe place to live, Rhonda has ended up with a better life and more possibilities than she ever imagined.
She spends a lot of her time organizing and cleaning her new home — she meticulously mops the wood floors with Pine Sol to protect them from the grime that gets tracked in — and reading Steven King novels. She's also worked hard to regain visitation rights to her three daughters and looks forward to having them over to bake cookies and watch movies.
Rhonda, in her late 40’s, says she worked as a paralegal in the past and spent more than 20 years waiting tables, and she's proud of those accomplishments as well as of her growing independence.
"I'm much more stable, my whole life is more stable," she explained. "I'm not worrying about how to survive. I smile. I have hope for the future."
Just what that future holds is hard to say. But, Rhonda is doing just what she should be doing — putting her life back together and enjoying the fact that, finally, she's safe.
(The following letter was written by Beverly of Bangor, Maine. This is shared with her permission and at her request.)
To Whom It May Concern:
It has taken me quite some time to gather my thoughts and be able to write the positive experiences I’ve had with the support I have received from OHI.
Prisoner in own home
Prior to signing up for Daily Living Services, I was experiencing great sadness, loss of hope and anxiety about even leaving my house. I had become a prisoner in my own home, and didn’t know where to turn.
Living in fear
My journey has not been easy; many years ago I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C; I have undergone a liver transplant which has recently begun to fail due to the progression of my disease. I’m currently going to Boston every month for experimental treatment, with the hopes that it will slow down the rapid progression. You can only imagine the fear I live with on a daily basis. I fear for my life; I fear for my children and family; sometimes, I fear the next day. This put me in hiding, isolated from the world because I was afraid I would only become more ill.
Leap of faith
With a leap of faith I contacted OHI, because I had nowhere else to go. I’ve had extremely poor luck when it comes to services, so I wasn’t sure this was going to be what I needed and hoped for. A young lady met with me to begin Daily Living Services. She was quite at first, but very nice. Her name is Holly (Lavoie). As I mentioned before, I was leery, but she gained my trust first by showing up on time. Secondly she was always smiling and treated me like a person. Finally, the support she provided to me was more than I ever expected or hoped for. Over time, we have developed a wonderful working relationship.
My life has made such a dramatic positive change since OHI came into my life. Everyone has been so helpful; the teamwork is incredible from what I’ve observed. When one person is not available, another person will step up and help. I feel like I can now focus on the positive things in my life. Not having to worry about the day-to-day struggles I face and being able to focus on the great things that lie ahead is something I have not been able to do for so long.
I look forward to seeing each and every staff person that comes into my home. Everyone has respected my living space, and more importantly, they respect me as a person. In particular, Holly has been fabulous. I want her efforts, professionalism, support and kindness to be recognized. It is rare when you get the opportunity to meet and work with such a wonderful person, and I feel blessed. She is (a) rare gem in my eyes, a genuinely nice person; a person who touches the hearts of many and I will be forever grateful.
Share my story
I want my story to be shared. I want people to know about the supports I receive from OHI, and how happy I am with Holly. Words cannot express what all of this has meant to me, but this is an attempt to do so.