HOLIDAY — Desperate. Lonely. Negative. Violent.
Jamie uses those words to describe her family's life as she descended into homelessness. The 26-year-old — whose last name is not being used because she is a victim of domestic violence — recalled recently sharing a twin bed with her three young children in a friend's home, after years of bouncing around. Drugs and domestic violence were the catalysts for much of what had gone wrong with previous boyfriends.
Jamie and her kids — ages 5, 4, and 2 — ultimately would end up in a hotel room, an option that would not last long as money ran out.
"We were literally going to be on the street," she said.
The holidays were rapidly approaching, and Jaime heard about a Toys for Tots program at Metropolitan Ministries Pasco headquarters at 3214 U.S. 19 in Holiday. She thought going might lift her kids' spirits. It would be a move that changed her life and made her a pioneer as one of the first families to take up residence in a new facility that offers three to six months of temporary housing for families.
During her visit, Jamie ran into the Rev. Dan Campbell, director of development for Metropolitan Ministries Pasco, who asked about her situation and told her about Miracles of Pasco, a program she could apply for that could provide her family with transitional housing if she agreed to enter into a vigorous program that focuses on establishing and reaching educational, employment, medical, and therapy goals for tenants and their children. The program also provides assistance in securing permanent housing.
Soon, Jamie and her kids became one of seven families to be the first to live in a room at the new 12-unit building on the Metropolitan campus. Three days before Christmas, Jamie sat in her room, hugging her kids and basking in the promise of hope for a new life.
Jamie and her children all had their own beds and a bathroom. A piece of motivational art hung on the wall with new words to guide Jamie's progress: laugh, celebrate, love, dream, hope, learn and smile, among others.
The building also holds work centers with computers and rooms where the children have access to toys and interaction with other children. In addition, the program provides day care for the children as Jamie looks for a job. She has chosen to enter a nursing program as part of numerous goals she must meet to stay in the facility.
Miracles of Pasco is the county's first such housing facility, and there are plans to build an additional 12 units by summer on the campus. Campbell said Metropolitan Ministries had hoped the first 12 units would be filled by Christmas, but the agency had difficulty finding candidates who could pass a drug test. It is an indication of the work that still needs to be done in the community, he said.
"In Pasco, drugs are really a big issue; it's really a significant issue," he said. "We are talking about heroin, meth, prescription drugs, spice. These are really serious drugs."
Campbell said if potential candidates fail drug tests as part of the application process, Metropolitan works to integrate them into drug treatment programs offered by local partners. And if they succeed, they are welcome to apply again.
Jamie, however, did not need that, and she is glad to have found a home.
"This is stability for us. We consider this place home. Everyone here is like a family," she said. "I haven't seen a negative person yet. My kids need that."