For some women, having a place to sleep at night doesn’t always mean they’re safe. Roberta Showell knows this reality all too well. For seven years, she suffered at the hands of an abusive partner who eventually left Showell on the streets of Miami with no place to go. It would have been easy to lose hope.
Until one day when Showell came to the on-site clinic at the Camillus House main campus for a physical exam. She ended up staying for lunch and a short tour. “They introduced me to the Day Center program ,” she recalls. “They told me about the availability of showers and clean clothes, about the mail service, and let me know they had a library.” Showell couldn’t believe these resources were available – and at no cost. And she didn’t know that the Camillus House Day Center Program would also offer her a new opportunity – the chance to get her own apartment even while still living on the street.
Before finding Camillus, Showell never knew the feeling of standing on solid ground. She didn’t have the resources or foundation to rebuild her life. But at the Camillus House Day Center, the only day center for street homeless in our county, she found all the support she needed. Showell got a free cell phone, used the center’s computer, and quickly landed a job at a fast-food chain. Each day, she was able to pick out fresh clothing and take a shower to go to work.
Then, the Day Center staff started working with her to get the documents she would need to qualify for permanent housing. “I remember the day last February when I told her the good news that she was going to get her own apartment,” said Day Center Manager Elisa Roque, who convinced Showell to start the paperwork process even if she was still living on the street. “I remember she could hardly believe it. The hug she gave me. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had working at Camillus.”
At a time of turbulence, and after ten years of homelessness, Showell found a safe place to recover and receive the support she needed to feel independent and stable again. “I cannot thank the staff at Camillus House and their Day Center enough,” she says. “They have never let me down.”
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