Maria’s Story, Part 2

Referred by the police officer, Maria called Empowerhouse for support. She talked with an advocate and decided to come to shelter. Maria came to the Empowerhouse domestic violence shelter. While there, she began to rebuild her life taking steps to get care for her and her children, taking legal steps, and accessing supports available in the community.

Social services provided daycare, TANF, and food stamps. She applied for custody of her children which she later gained and started her U-Visa application to seek legal status after being a crime victim for so many years.

With a long road ahead to overcome barriers to entering housing, Maria moved into the transition house where she and her children lived in their own residence owned by Empowerhouse for many months without paying any expenses.

During that time Empowerhouse supported her family and helped with transportation to doctor’s appointments and counseling support for her and her children.

Also during that time Maria was diagnosed with pre-cancer (HPV) and Empowerhouse provided transportation for all her doctor’s appointments and also to the surgery appointment. Advocates helped her make arrangements with her sister and some of the women from the Empowerhouse Latino support group to assist her and her children during her healing time.

Also, her advocates referred her to an office that fixed her dentures for free. The Healthcare Advocate assisted her in completing paperwork related to her son’s facial reconstruction surgery. The Healthcare Advocate also provided transportation to the son’s doctor’s appointments.

While Maria was waiting for the U-Visa, the Housing Victim Advocate assisted her and her children in applying for an apartment through Empowerhouse. Our partner, Central Virginia Housing Coalition helped her find an apartment and sign a lease.

She has found a job. She now has her own transportation thanks to a donation by a member of her church. This will help her to be more independent and maintain her employment.

Recently, Maria expressed how grateful she is to Empowerhouse. She mentioned never having received so much support in her life. Her children received so many gifts, toys, food and clothes at Christmas thanks to generous donors.

Maria received gift cards from Empowerhouse when she left the transition house as a reward for taking such good care of the unit where she was living with her children. This money will help her to buy things that she will need for her new home.

Reflecting on her journey with the Latina Support Services Coordinator, Maria said

On this day I lost what I considered to be my family but yesterday (a year later) was a celebration because I received [a new family] from Empowerhouse.

For the first time in my life, I am not afraid thanks to all that I learned during the year from each of you (the Empowerhouse advocates). At shelter, I always felt warmth from Rose when I was sad. I was exhausted as a person.

When I was in your (transition) house, for the first time I was in a house and did not have to pay anything. This changed my life. I never had this much support from my family or people I knew and trusted.

I learned to have humility and patience from Tammy. I am grateful to Monica for supporting my health and for all of her guidance and support. She also helped me to enroll my children and orient them into daycare and school.

From Aundrea, I felt her support and assistance with all of my requests. In support group, I learned and strengthened my knowledge. It allowed me to meet other women and Dilcia. Dilcia supported my transportation and helped me connect with a Doctor for my teeth and a Doctor for my son.

And, I thank you Leslie because you always take my calls regardless of the time of day and you talk with me on any subject.

I feel blessed to have Empowerhouse and that each of you are guardian angels for women like me who have difficult life situations. I want to write a letter to express all of my gratitude and to let everyone who has supported me know that I am optimistic, that I feel hopeful, and that I have faith in myself because I now live a dignified life.”

The support from our community makes it possible to ensure survivors like Maria have the opportunity to find freedom from abuse and start a new life.

You can change lives through a donation to Empowerhouse on May 3rd for The Community Give. Click here to find out how your donation on this 24 hour day of online giving can do the most good for survivors of domestic violence.