Many hardworking people in our modern-day society never feel they might become homeless, but Barb became homeless at 60 years old.
Barb grew up in a safe, close knit family. Growing up with her siblings in SW Michigan, her childhood experience was typical of any middle-class family. When Barb was near the end of high school, she tried to find a job, but no one would hire her without experience. She had the opportunity to join the military and signed up for training. Barb loved to cook for her family and eventually found a calling as an Army chef.
She served for 3 years in the armed forces before leaving to continue her work outside of the military. Finding a job after her military experience was much easier. Barb worked for 32 years as a hospital food service provider in Battle Creek, MI. As the hospital restructured, Barb found herself, once again, in need of a job.
Barb faced a low point in her life and she started to contemplate ending it all. But a friend reached out and invited her to church. “I was skeptical at first and really was going because my friend invited me”. All it took was one service for Barb to have a new outlook on life. Barb formed a strong relationship with God that she has carried with her to this day.
She was offered a position as a live-in caretaker for a foster care center. It was a good paying job, but she felt that it just wasn’t the right fit. But Barb was not a quitter. She stuck with it for two years until another job opportunity came along that she felt better suited her. All looked well until it came time for her previous employer to hire a new live-in caretaker. At the time, Barb had been living at the foster care center, so she now needed to find a place to live. Because of some credit issues, Barb was denied left and right as she applied for apartments and didn’t know what to do. The only place she could think of was to turn to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.
“I remember walking into the Mission being scared and thinking, what am I doing here?” Barb said. Barb’s course at the Mission might have been very different if it weren’t for a fellow guest noticing and reaching out with, “You look like you could use a friend”. Because of that friendship with Deb, Barb gained the motivation necessary to move forward and begin to work on the barriers she was facing.
Barb connected with Beth, a Case Manager at the Mission. She listened intently to Barb’s story, encouraged her, and helped her develop a plan of action. First, Beth connected Barb to a financial counselor who could help her get her credit problems resolved. This was the first step towards stability. “I loved meeting with my Beth. She prayed with me and encouraged me when I needed it most,” Barb said, “she helped me see that I had everything I needed to get back on my feet.”
Finding an apartment, Barb has been moved out of KGM for several months. “It’s wonderful to have my own place again, but I have to admit, it’s been kind of lonely the last few weeks with the Stay at Home Order,” says Barb. “thank goodness for social media so I can keep in touch with my family and friends at KGM. I am truly grateful for the help that KGM has provided and I want to give back anyway I can.”