During the pandemic, Amanda and her son lived in a hotel, and while it sheltered them from the cold, it was barely a home.
Now that she’s a resident of the new women’s and children’s shelter opened by the Macomb County Emergency Shelter Rotating Team (MCREST), she has the stability she needs to start over.
“This is going to be the greatest year of our lives,” said Amanda, whose last name was withheld for security reasons. “Colton will be 4 years old and I want to be in a house by the time he starts kindergarten. I need to find a good paying job so that we can afford to have our own accommodation.
Amanda is a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault.
She suffered as a child and as an adult.
Now that she is a mother, she is determined to provide a loving home for herself and the son she is raising to be a kind-hearted gentleman.
“What do you say, Colton?” she said, after her son received a toy.
“Thank you,” Colton said, with a big smile.
Amanda and Colton are two of more than 50 women and children MCREST has moved from hotels and into the new shelter that opened in April. Many of the women Amanda shares a room with have similar stories of neglect, abuse, or just plain bad luck.
“I was at my wit’s end,” said Amanda, who graduated from high school and completed a nurse’s assistant program offered by the American Red Cross that allowed her to work in a care facility. nurses and a group home. She also added to her income as a bartender. She had her own apartment and lived independently, until she met a guy who convinced her to give it all up.
“I left the apartment I worked so hard for,” Amanda said. “But it was a very toxic relationship.”
He was mentally controlling and abusive, she said.
At one point, Amanda felt so weak and alone that she tried to hurt herself. He rushed her to the hospital and probably saved her life, but after he returned home, their relationship deteriorated further. Eventually, Amanda found herself thrown to the sidewalk with nothing more than the clothes she was wearing on her back.
A friend from high school took her in but after the former boyfriend threatened her, Amanda was asked to leave. “I get it. I don’t blame her. She was scared,” Amanda said.
Amanda spent several years wandering around looking for a place to live, sometimes with relatives and sometimes on the streets.
“I contacted the shelters but they were all full,” she said.
She had almost given up hope when a woman from the Homeless Angels Restoring Faith in Humanity called her back. Homeless Angels is a non-profit that works to help Michigan’s homeless population and is based in Lansing, but they were able to connect Amanda with MCREST and they provided Amanda and her son with food, clothing and a hotel room.
It was then that Amanda also learned of a new shelter that the organization was working to complete.
For more than 30 years, MCREST has worked with a network of more than 70 churches to provide a rotating solution for homeless people, including nearly 600 in 2020.
In 2015, when a two-story brick building in Mount Clemens became available, MCREST jumped at the chance to purchase it for a women’s and children’s shelter. It was great and just needed some cosmetic repairs, but soon after it was purchased, the water pipes broke and inspectors discovered mold. MCREST was forced to tear the building down to the poles and start from scratch. At that time, many groups may have started the project, but like the faithful group of church parishioners who founded MCREST and its mission to provide temporary shelter to homeless people on a rotating basis, the group moved forward with a fundraising campaign supported by the generosity of their community and local businesses.
Last January, MCREST’s Returning Home campaign reached its goal of $300,000 to cover the latest renovations, and in the spring, the dream home featuring seven dorms, a common room for family lounging, a large kitchen and living room dining room and a children’s playroom has been made accessible to women and children.
“It was very exciting for us,” said April Fidler, executive director of MCREST and the one who led the effort to build the house.
But also for women who had the first opportunity to stay there.
“I was in my hotel room when I got a call that they had a place for me,” Amanda said of the new 6,500 square foot facility. “I had to pinch myself because I didn’t know if it was real or if I was dreaming it.”
However, the offer was conditional on his meeting with MCREST.
“I wasn’t sure I could make it in time,” Amanda said, but after telling a friend about her good fortune, he insisted she wasn’t late and that he would take her there just to be sure.
“It was a game-changer for me,” Amanda said. “Everyone has been so warm, so kind and so compassionate. I know a lot of people are ashamed to say they live in a shelter, but we’re so damn proud and grateful to be here.
“It’s the first home I’ve had in a long time,” she said, before pausing to give Colton, who was getting anxious just sitting in their room, a warm hug and a grateful kiss. to have been so patient.
“Hitting rock bottom showed me what mountain tops would be like and right now Colton and I are on top of a mountain. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said. .
In addition to shelter, Amanda has been able to get health care for herself and her son and is currently working to find a job.
For more information about MCREST, visit mcrest.org/.