I've been homeless for about nine months now. I live in a shelter with my four children – who are 9, 11, 13 and 15. We ended up here after fleeing an abusive relationship. It was hard to leave, but after things got really rough, I knew what I had to do to take care of them. It seems ridiculous that living in a homeless shelter is the better option for my kids. But let me assure you, with what we were going through, it is.
It's tough living in the shelter – for me, yes, but especially for my children. It breaks me down as a father watching them go through this. I've always worked in the past, as a welder and forklift driver, but I'm in between surgeries right now and can't bring in any income. Because of that, we have to wait until low-income housing opens up to finally have a home.
Besides love and support, the one thing I can provide for my children with right now is healthy food – thanks to the food pantry at my kids' school. The pantry – supported by our local food bank – provides fresh, local produce that I otherwise could not afford. My children love it, and it gives them the nutrients they need to keep them strong through this tough time.
I am hopeful things will get better soon. We're close to finding a home, and after my next surgery, I'll be able to heal and look for work. All I want is to be self-sufficient and provide a stable, better life for my kids. No one wants to depend on others for support, including me. But when I need it – and we all need help at one point or another – I'm truly grateful that it's there. And I'm confident that someday soon when all this is behind me, I'll be able to pay this help forward – by helping others in their time of need.