The Story of Giselle

The saying is true; there is strength in numbers.

Giselle*, a client of Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless (IPH) and mother of six, is beaming as she speaks about a four-bedroom apartment near a park that she has acquired through the help of IPH’s Housing Services. For the first time in a long time, she and her family have a place to call ‘home.’Cover of appeal

Giselle is no stranger to hardship. After escaping an abusive husband, the father to her children, Giselle was forced to make decisions no parent should ever have to make. With nowhere to go and six children between the ages of two and seventeen, her first move was to find somewhere safe. “The shelters had no space for me with all the kids,” she explained, with two of the younger children sitting beside her. “I started calling family around the country asking if they could take a few kids until I could figure out a plan. I didn’t know how to keep us all together, but I wasn’t going to give my kids up.”

A safe space was essential, but that was not the only problem that Giselle faced. With no clothing and no food, every day was a battle for survival. She had to do the impossible, not for herself, but for her kids.

IPH met Giselle when she was struggling to afford daily meals, and she learned of the free lunches for children at the Summer Youth Program. Her days in the park lead her to IPH’s Sheridan Hollow Drop-In Center which opened the door to additional services and began to change her family’s life.

Once linked with the Drop-In Center, Giselle met her Case Manager, Shahmeeka. With her help, Giselle was able to enroll her children in school, get backpacks with school supplies, enroll her family in food stamps, acquire clothing from the Drop-In Center Clothing Pantry, and even help put smiles back on her children’s faces as they spent their summer in the park at IPH’s Summer Youth Program.

At one point, she recalls, the seven members of her family were sleeping on the floor of a relative’s house. With tears welling up in her eyes, Giselle reflected on the accomplishments she has made since finding help through IPH. “You got us mattresses, new clothes and sneakers for my children before they went to school.”  She smiled. “These everyday things changed our lives.”

Through the assistance of IPH, Giselle continues to work to get her family’s life back on track. It is her determination, though, that keeps the momentum going. She has worked with IPH to make sure her children can keep being kids; most recently, through an opportunity with a community partner, she took her family to see an Albany Devils hockey game. Her oldest child is following her dream of joining the Army.

“You do the impossible,” everyone has said to her.

“I have no choice,” she responds. “It’s for my kids.  They are my reason.”

Supporting IPH will allow us to keep assisting those with stories like Giselle and her family. There is strength in numbers and, with your contribution, we can grow stronger.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the family.

Strength in Numbers

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