“I don’t belong here.”
That’s what Joann Gardiner remembers thinking the day she showed up at LifePath Christian Ministries Women and Children’s Shelter.
The shelter was a place for troublemakers and drug addicts, she thought.
But, she had nowhere else to turn.
A cycle of homelessness
Walking home to find all her worldly possessions out on the sidewalk was normal for Joann growing up.
By the time she was 11, her family had been evicted 13 times. They lived in a car for almost a year. Calling an abandoned house “home” wasn’t uncommon.
As an adult, Joann wanted a different life. But, she was also a single mom working multiple jobs to pay the bills.
Even as she splurged on toys for her three daughters, she struggled to pay the rent on a house that was beyond her means.
She fell back to what she knew.
Eviction, squatting in unoccupied houses — it was everything she’d tried to escape from her childhood.
After her third eviction, defeated and reluctant, she went to LifePath.
Changing her life
It wasn’t what she expected.
That first night she talked with a counselor and instead of being met with judgment, she found kindness and understanding.
At LifePath, Joann says she’s treated as an individual, someone worthwhile, someone who’s valued.
There were classes to help her learn how to be financially responsible, Bible studies to heal her soul, and counselors to listen and guide her to help herself.
That first night at LifePath was six months ago now. In that time, Joann says, they’ve helped her become a better person and a better mother.
“It’s amazing,” she says. “They have changed my life. They’ve made me see the best that I am and the best that I can be.”
They’re giving her the tools to be successful on her own.
“I just want to make it,” she says, “and I know I can.”
Support LifePath during Give Local York
LifePath Christian Ministries is working to raise $50,000 during Give Local York on May 4 to support the Women and Children’s Shelter. Donate to LifePath between midnight and 11:59 a.m. on May 4.