I was in a bad marriage. Yeah, it got really bad. He called me names and pushed me around … broke my laptop and my cell phone, ripped my dress, would take the car so I missed work. I lost my job because of that.

The stress of domestic violence and the concern for her son made Megan (name changed to retain anonymity) flee their home and enter a Domestic Violence Emergency Shelter a few towns over.

Megan is now a resident at St. Margaret of Cortona. She joined the program in February 2015. She and her preteen son have had, in her words, “a horrible past year,” one in which her son had to change schools three times.

Megan’s story is one example of why transformational housing is important and how the work of St. Margaret of Cortona is making a difference in the lives of those who are involved.

St. Margaret of Cortona Family Transitional Housing helps single mothers and families rebuild their lives and move to independent housing.

St. Margaret of Cortona Family Transitional Housing helps single mothers and families rebuild their lives and move to independent housing.

Domestic violence can quickly destroy the life someone has built. Megan made an important decision: to leave and seek help in a structured program to help her get back on her feet. Though she and her son each escaped with one bag each, life has new possibilities for residents of St. Margaret’s with stable housing and a supportive case manager.

When I walked into my apartment at St. Margaret’s, I cried my eyes out. You feel like you have some place that is yours until you move on.

Megan began a “recovery plan” with her case manager after she entered the program. She had multiple barriers on arrival to St. Margaret’s. Her internet and computer skills were outdated, she needed to renew a certification for her career, her drivers license was expired and she had no transportation other than bus services.

She decided to find a job within walking distance. Her goals were to save money, renew her license, and apply for a donated car. Megan joined the Wednesday night “L’Earn a Laptop” Life Skills class taught by a volunteer from Church of the Nativity in Burke to learn critical computer skills. She received a refurbished laptop upon completing the class.

In May, Megan and her case manager drove to Arlington and received a donated car from Catholic Charities’ Car Ministry. For the first time, she was able to register it in her name.

For my career, it’s important to have reliable transportation. You are often asked to travel between multiple offices that are not on a bus route. As soon as I got the vehicle, I can’t even tell you how many job listings I applied to. I was so focused, working on my cover letter and sending out resumes.

Her employability rose dramatically with these new certifications and skills and a reliable car. She received a job in a medical office a week later. She’s grateful that her job provides her a reliable income, allows her to serve others, and to spend nights and weekends at home with her son.

Everything is moving forward. It is finally feeling like we have a new life. Catholic Charities does wonderful things for people. I can’t say enough.

Homeless families, like Megan’s, stay at our St. Margaret of Cortona Family Transformational Residence, where the individualized guidance and weekly programming encourages vulnerable families to achieve self-sufficiency.  Many are single moms fleeing domestic abuse with little savings or family to depend on. Poor credit history, broken relationships, evictions and low-paying jobs may also weigh heavily on them.

Desperate for a second chance, they can stay in a St. Margaret’s apartment for up to two years. During that time, the moms focus on increasing their pay and education, overcoming mental health concern, improving parenting skills, helping their kids in school, rebuilding family relationships and seeking spiritual renewal.

Visit www.ccda.net today to learn how you can help the moms and children at St. Margaret’s by volunteering your time or making a donation! Our clients and Catholic Charities are supported by the gifts of our supporters. Capital One, through a charitable grant of $7,500, is helping Catholic Charities and clients like Megan to gain a new lease on life. We want to thank Capital One for this grant award and support. Together, we are working to make a difference in the lives of homeless families.