how you saved Brandi’s family from homelessness
My name is Brandi. I was raised in a loving home with strong values and positive support. My childhood was wonderful until my parents divorced when I was eight. My father moved away and my mother, brother, and I moved in with my grandparents who were loving and supportive.
I got good grades and was very involved in school activities. My grandfather died when I was 13. I lost the only solid male role model I had. When I was 16, I met my first boyfriend. At that time I was an honor student and captain of the cheerleading squad. My boyfriend became very jealous and would physically and verbally abuse me for talking to other men. My self-image was shattered. My grades began to slip and I was kicked off of the cheerleading squad. This broke my heart and I became very rebellious and stopped attending most of my classes.
I found comfort in alcohol and my physically abusive relationship. I did not return to high school my senior year. On my 18th birthday, I was introduced to meth. I became addicted almost immediately. I was very disappointed with my place in life, and meth numbed that pain.
“I was 27 years old, addicted to meth, homeless, hopeless, facing incarceration and contemplating suicide. Just when I thought my life couldn’t get worse, I found out that I was pregnant.”
My life had become completely unmanageable. I lived in isolation. The only time I would call my mother was for money or to bond me out of jail. My only needs were drugs and gambling. Nothing else mattered. It became extremely difficult to finance both a $100-$200 daily drug habit and have money to gamble. I was arrested several times for various crimes and placed on probation.
I was unable to comply with probation expectations and became a fugitive. I was 27 years old, addicted to meth, homeless, hopeless, facing incarceration and contemplating suicide. Just when I thought my life couldn’t get worse, I found out that I was pregnant. I was so scared. I couldn’t even take care of myself. How was I going to care for a child?
In a moment of clarity, I sat down at a computer and found a residential treatment program that specialized in treating pregnant women. I called the Center for Hope (CFH) immediately and scheduled a tour of the campus for myself and my mother. From the moment I walked in I felt like I was home. I was completely overwhelmed with a feeling of peace and love and I knew that CFH was going to be able to help me. I needed help so desperately.
In May 2007, I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy. I named him after the only honorable man I’ve ever known, my grandfather. Life as I knew it completely changed. I was now a mother and could not be happier. My family was thrilled. My son reconnected me with my family. They saw how I cared for him and became willing to forgive me for the poor choices I made in my past. My mother and brother began attending family sessions at CFH to help them heal from the devastation I had caused. My son, Jackson, is the most wonderful blessing I have ever received.
I successfully completed treatment at CHF and received a graduation ceremony for my commitment to this year-long program. The same week, my probation recognized my hard work and rewarded me by dropping my felony charge down to a misdemeanor.
“In a moment of clarity, I sat down at a computer and found a residential treatment program that specialized in treating pregnant women.”
As I thought about my future, I wanted to learn how to live on my own and provide for my son. My case manager suggested that I attend a “First Time Home Buyer” workshop hosted by A New Leaf through MesaCAN. This was my introduction to the Individual Development Account (IDA) program.
The informational workshop was amazing. The IDA administrator from A New Leaf explained how the program worked and made my dream seem achievable. I got the chance to hear testimony from a single mother who had gone from living in a shelter with her children to becoming a homeowner. It was motivating and inspiring. I set a goal that day: that I would become a homeowner by the time my son started kindergarten.
Almost immediately following the workshop, I opened an IDA account through A New Leaf and began saving as much as I could – $25 a month. I attended budgeting classes, first time home buyer education classes, and participated in credit counseling. I worked closely with the IDA Administrator at A New Leaf to improve my credit score and prepare myself for the responsibilities associated with being a homeowner. The budgeting classes changed the way I thought about my spending. Before long, I was able to cut back my expenses and put as much money as I could into my IDA account. A New Leaf taught me how to change my financial thinking, and that has changed my life.
My ultimate goal is to provide a loving environment for my son. I want him to have the structure and stability that I did not. I want him to feel safe and protected. I would love for him to have a house that he is proud to call home and know that his mother was able to provide for him and put his needs first. I am so close to making this a reality.
After a few months, I found out that my credit score had significantly improved and I had been pre-approved to buy a home. Tears rolled down my face when I received this news. I had worked so hard, suffered many setbacks and been extremely discouraged at times. I was completely moved that my perseverance had finally paid off. I am so grateful to A New Leaf for their encouragement and dedication to my goals.
“If not for the intervention brought on by the pregnancy I believe my life would have ended tragically and quickly. I feel confident that I will never again be in such a dark place, and that I will always provide for my son.”
It was important to me to become independent from community programs, and I have been able to accomplish this goal. After homeownership my plan is to return to school and get a behavioral health degree specializing in trauma. I will again turn to A New Leaf for assistance with my educational goals. I see myself as a program director and public speaker and I would like to bring a voice to the people who do not have one: children. I believe the best way to help a child is to help their mother become a strong, independent, reliable, and loving parent. I know this because I lived it.
Today, I have an attitude of gratitude. I know that God gave Jackson to me to save me from a miserable life. If not for the intervention brought on by the pregnancy I believe my life would have ended tragically and quickly. I am so thankful for all of the support I received, and proud that I made the most of it. I feel confident that I will never again be in such a dark place, and that I will always provide for my son.