Marilyn’s Story of Transformation

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As she stood outside the door of the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children, Marilyn remembered volunteering there years prior. She remembered the smiles on the women’s faces as she served them a meal or gave them clothes. Today, she was there for a completely different reason—because she and her daughter, Sarah, needed a place to sleep and a new start.

“I had a rich, full life,” says Marilyn. “I never thought I would end up at a homeless shelter.” She had an established career in the furniture installation business and enjoyed going to work every day. She was doing well, providing for herself and her three daughters.

Unexpectedly, Marilyn began having hip and leg pain. She had to undergo bilateral hip replacement surgery, and was unable to continue working. She was not able to pay rent at her apartment, so she moved in with some family members. She soon realized that it was not a safe environment for Sarah. “Taking Sarah to a homeless shelter was a humbling and challenging experience, because I didn’t know what to expect,” says Marilyn. “I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at My Sister’s House.” The staff members were kind and treated them with dignity. They asked Marilyn what she and Sarah needed, and helped provide those services for them. She felt a weight lifting off her chest because she realized they were going to be safe here.

“Taking Sarah to a homeless shelter was a humbling and challenging experience, because I didn’t know what to expect,” says Marilyn. “I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at My Sister’s House.”

Today, Marilyn’s days look different than they used to, but she appreciates this difference. She chose help and has been taking advantage of our Make Progress Services since then. Her days are filled with counseling sessions, time with her social worker, Bible studies, and working at the front desk of My Sister’s House. Her Advocate, Becca, taught a stress management class that helped Marilyn a great deal. “I realized that stress was my biggest problem, especially when it came to providing for my daughter,” says Marilyn. “Becca taught me healthy ways to manage my stress, such as prayer, meditation, and being open with my counselor.”

Sarah is also thriving at My Sister’s House. She is surrounded by a community of women who support and encourage her daily. She has also opened up to her own counselor, which was a big breakthrough. With Becca’s help, Marilyn has applied for subsidized housing, and has been approved for disability benefits. She and Sarah are hoping to move into a place of their own in the next few months. Marilyn’s dream is to eventually teach women how to succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields like she did, and perhaps partner with My Sister’s House.

“Atlanta Mission has changed my life,” Marilyn says. “Sarah and I have hope and a better future because of this place.”

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