Parents understand how hard it can be to raise children today. From packing lunches for school, to helping our kids with their homework or taking them to see the doctor, parents do the most they can to ensure that their children are healthy and happy. But as difficult as it may seem at times for mom and dad, it is twice as hard for single parents.
Single parents and their children represent a rapidly increasing population. With a divorce rate above 50% and a growing number of unwed teenage mothers, many children find themselves being raised by one parent and often shuttled between two homes. Yet as difficult as it may be, imagine the toll that poverty, homelessness, addiction, violence, and other problems would take on these families. The responsibility of heading a safe, loving and nurturing household becomes even more daunting.
At Camillus House, we are very proud of our family housing programs, where we make a very special and concerted effort to bring families together. We provide a safe home for countless families each night, most of them single parents with children, and many are brought back together after the children were separated while the parent experienced homelessness.
In addition to providing housing, Camillus offers counseling to all families as well as assistance with food, clothing, furniture, and health care. Camillus House also gives them the tools they need through services such as free childcare assistance, tutoring, support groups, and classes in parenting skills. Parents are encouraged to go back to school to obtain their GED or a college education, children attend school and summer camps.
One such family is that of Gina and her son Jorge who is 12 years old. Before coming to Camillus, Gina lost Jorge for four months to the foster care system after she became homeless. Today, she is doing everything she can to make sure that Jorge feels safe and happy at his new home at Camillus. “Camillus has helped my family get back on our feet, explains Gina. “We participate in all the activities as a family.”
Feeling safe is a common theme when speaking to families who have been through what Gina and Jorge experienced. Camillus works with the same families we help to create a healthy and stable community. “People here are clean, kids here stick together no matter what,” Gina says with a smile. “Both parents and kids have gone through a lot and we support each other.”
When issues do arise, family members always have access to an understanding and caring staff member. With no judgment, we provide services with love so our families can look forward to coming home everyday. Ultimately, our goal at Camillus House is to bring the individuals and families we help closer to self-sufficiency and independence.