The St. Louis Foodbank operates a Transitional Housing Program for people moving from a local shelter into their own residence.
We know it’s hard to scrape together the funds to pay a month’s rent, not to mention the utility down payments, security fees, etc.
To help with those one time additional costs, we provide a 30-day supply of food and other household items. Everyone needs a little help at some point, or at least some guidance.
Judy and I created our own transitional housing program with our daughter. After graduating from Missouri State University, Shawn accepted a job as a travel director.
The position has taken Shawn to many exotic places, but it also required that she spend the vast majority of her time out of town. Therefore, there wasn’t much sense in moving her into an apartment.
Loving parents that Judy and I are, we told her she was welcome to live with us but she’d have to pay rent. The Finnegan family transitional housing program had two options.
Shawn’s first option was to pay $250 each month and her loving parents would thank her very much and spend it on meals, movies and entertainment. Her second option was to pay $500 each month and we would return the entire sum whenever she decided to move out.
Shawn paid us rent for three years before an overpowering urge to flee drove her out and now has her paying rent to complete strangers.
Looking back, I’m happy about two things. First, Shawn paid the higher sum. Second, Judy collected the monthly rent payments and dutifully put them in the bank. Eighteen months after moving out of her parents’ home, Shawn bought her own house with the down payment from our transitional housing program.
Judy and I are in an enviable position. We have college educations, we both work and we’re able to live within our means. We have one child who successfully navigated the tumultuous years from 16 to 25. That seems to be the decade when parents everywhere pray their children don’t make one really stupid decision that could forever change their lives for the worse.
We know that circumstances beyond our control happen every day. A serious illness, a car accident, a lost job – so many things could start a spiral down that suddenly gets out of control.
Shelters are full of people who fell into that downward spiral. They certainly never planned on being in a shelter.
I’m thankful the Foodbank’s Transitional Housing Program can be there to help these folks down on their luck; just as I’m thankful Judy and I were able to help Shawn.
Everyone – at one time or another – needs a chance for a new start…a fresh beginning.