A second chance: Stimulus check helps homeless woman get a place
幸运飞艇跟人工计划Dawn Carpenter's life today looks very different than it did nine months ago.
幸运飞艇跟人工计划The 43-year-old has two jobs and volunteers every night she is free at her church, the Connecting Grounds. She has been clean since October.
Recently Carpenter used her stimulus check to get her own place, something she hasn't had in 10 years.
"It's been truly amazing," she said, looking around at her then-empty living room on April 24 — move-in day. She has since been given a few pieces of furniture. She's also found a few discarded pieces on the side of the road.
She'd been working at Wendy's since November but couldn't scrape up enough money to get a place until the stimulus check came a couple of weeks ago. She recently took another part-time job, but is convinced getting her own place would not have been possible without the extra money.
"It's just been getting the initial deposit," she said. "It's just hard to do when you don't have a stable place."
幸运飞艇跟人工计划Carpenter also credits the support she's received from Connecting Grounds pastor Christie Love and her husband, Bob. The Loves helped Carpenter file her taxes for the first time in her life, which led to receiving the stimulus check. And they gave a strong character reference to Carpenter's new landlord.
"The Connecting Grounds is my sanity," Carpenter of the church on Commercial Street that serves the homeless. "It's what my purpose is for staying sober."
Love, who helped organize day shelters opening up at several Springfield churches, said there are about a dozen homeless people that she knows of who have made it their goal to use their stimulus money to secure housing. Several have received checks already and are actively saving money until they are able to find a place that will fit their needs and their budget, she said.
幸运飞艇跟人工计划The biggest struggle many face is the shortage of affordable one-bedroom apartments and houses in Springfield, Love said.
Volunteers at the Connecting Grounds have been helping homeless people file their taxes in recent weeks. Starting next week, staff from Consumer Credit Counseling will be visiting the day shelters to help people explore banking options and talk to them about how to repair credit, set a budget and manage money.
"Stimulus checks are just starting to be received by several of our unsheltered citizens so this is the ideal time to provide support, education, and resources to make the best use of this opportunity to help break them out of hotel cycles or to aid in getting them off of the streets," Love said in an electronic message.
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For Carpenter, she's settling into her new place and appreciating simple things like being to drink coffee in bed or on her front porch. She gets to choose where she reads her devotions and when she watches the news.
"I have stability and don't have to worry about where I'm gonna sleep or being kicked out at any time," she said. "I can sing in the shower without being told to shut up or made fun of."
"It's hardwood floors, so I have skated in my socks a few times and danced to the music of my choice," Carpenter added. "It's the freedom to just be me and find myself."
Finding a new life
Carpenter said she comes from a good family and was raised in church.
幸运飞艇跟人工计划"I never thought I'd go to prison. You don't think it's going to happen to you," she said. "I was not raised like this. It's choices and decisions that I made."
幸运飞艇跟人工计划Carpenter said she'd been in and out of Missouri Department of Corrections since 2014.
"As an active addict, (getting an apartment) just wasn't what was on my mind," she said. "It was no big deal to couch surf or whatever."
幸运飞艇跟人工计划Carpenter said she got out of prison in February of last year and was clean for about four months, until she started dating a man who was using drugs. "It didn't take long to just slip right back."
She moved with some friends into an extended stay in Branson for a time. Then, she loaded up her car with everything she owned with plans to visit family in Lebanon.
On the way, she stopped in Springfield to hang out with people who were using drugs and committing crimes. Someone stole her car.
幸运飞艇跟人工计划"That put me on the streets in a town where I didn't know anyone. I didn't have family here. The friends that I had weren't obviously good friends. So it was scary," she said. "I slept in the restrooms at parks and stuff. I have slept on people's couches that I didn't know. I've slept on front porches. I've slept at what they call Tent City (a homeless camp)."
Something happened last October, though, that caused Carpenter to walk away from the drugs and crime. Someone she owed an "old debt" ordered she be held hostage until the money was paid, she said. She was held for nearly a day and had to ask her parents to wire the money to Springfield.
"I was scared," she said. "I had never been put in that situation before. I've been through a lot of things, but not that — to not know if you are going to walk out or not."
"I remember praying, 'God, if you will just get me through this, I'm done,'" Carpenter recalled. "That was it. That was the end."
幸运飞艇跟人工计划She was still homeless. A friend who was also in recovery allowed her to stay at his place part-time when it got cold this past winter. That friend told her about the Connecting Grounds and Pastor Love's work to help the homeless.
"The homeless always touched my heart because I was that person. I've been that person off and on for about 10 years," she said.
幸运飞艇跟人工计划When she learned she had to do community service, Carpenter asked if she could help out at the Connecting Grounds. She worked off her community service by painting and performing other chores but continued coming every night to volunteer.
Carpenter said she and her three daughters have a wonderful relationship now, but she knows her mom is their real mom.
"I regret the time I've lost with my kids," she said tearfully. "Me and my oldest are best friends. We are not mother-daughter like we should be. When their kids get sick, they call my mom. When they need something, they call my mom. They call me every day just to stay in touch."
"It's good, but it hurts at the same time," Carpenter said. "It's bittersweet."
Carpenter said she plans to continue her volunteer work at the Connecting Grounds. She wants to help and maybe inspire those who are still struggling and on the streets.
She said she wants to tell them: "If I did this, you can do this. If you need help, come on. You want to go to a meeting? Come on. We can do this."