Two years ago, Consuela Yiseral and her two children were in need of a place to call home. Circumstances in their lives had forced them to start over and they needed to find a safe place where they could be together. Consuela, a stay-at-home mom, knew her first challenge would be finding a job. Fortunately she soon secured a part-time position at Richland Library as a library associate, a position she still holds today.
With pay stub in hand, Consuela’s next step was to apply for admission to St. Lawrence Place (SLP), a 30-home community where homeless families can find skills and shelter that foster independence and free them from the grip of poverty. SLP is not an emergency shelter, but rather a holistic approach to keeping families together and helping them cultivate the skills they need to become contributing members of the community.
Living at St. Lawrence Place is a life-changing opportunity. Once accepted into the program, Consuela and her children became immediately involved in SLP’s rigorous programming. Adult residents participate in counseling and weekly life skill classes such as budgeting, parenting and credit repair. Adults maintain employment and are expected to be productive community members by properly maintaining their apartments, paying bills on time and demonstrating progress with their individual family life plans.
“St. Lawrence Place immediately embraced my whole family,” shared Consuela. “Over the past two years, my children have had many so many opportunities including week-long camping trips, summer camp, and outings to EdVenture and the Museum of Art just to name a few. In addition, they receive school supplies and participate in after school programming. I am so proud of them; they are doing great in school!”
The rewards are endless for families who accept the opportunities offered by SLP. Not only do they live in a caring community where they can learn, grow and change, they also get themselves on the right path for a lifetime of better tomorrows.
So what is the next step for Consuela’s family? They will soon move to Live Oak Place, the newest program at SLP. While on the same campus, Live Oak Place is a more independent living arrangement for families. These new, affordable duplexes are rentals. Families have access to childcare and case management, but they do not have as many rules to abide by. Lila Anna Sauls, executive director of St. Lawrence Place explains, “Live Oak Place is a chance for families to try their wings. We are here to catch them if they fall, but we’ll also proudly watch as they fly away.”
Consuela is extremely appreciative of the safe haven SLP has provided her family. And while it is bittersweet, she will soon move outside the gates of SLP into her own home. She has always had this goal in front of her. “I am 85% of the way to permanent home ownership and we hope to move sometime this winter,” she shared proudly.
Board member, Cathy Monetti is passionate about her work with St. Lawrence Place.
“In the public discourse about homelessness, most talk about the chronically homeless – an often visible, yet unsolvable problem. Rarely do we think about homeless families. This group, the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, is largely invisible to the community since we don’t see them sitting on our park benches. The fact is that through programs like St. Lawrence Place, family homelessness can be solved! We have a 97% success rate for getting families like Consuela’s into permanent housing.”
For more information about St. Lawrence Place and its programs for homeless families, visit www.stlawrenceplace.org or call 803-256-3999.