From Homeless to Hopeful
Fifty-seven-year-old Kathleen Ray lived in a tent in the woods for five months with little food or water and exposed to extreme temperatures before finally finding a place to live at CHP’s Warwick community in Newport News, Virginia this past June. “If it weren’t for CHP, I’d be dead,” declared Ray.
A Colorado native who relocated eight years ago to Virginia’s Tidewater region to be closer to her son in the Navy, Ray put herself through college where she studied to become a medical assistant. Ray graduated with her name on the Dean’s List in 2011, only to have her fiancé take off shortly thereafter with all of her money. The suddenly destitute Ray found temporary housing at a friend’s apartment, but had to leave when he moved away and she was unable to pay the rent. With nowhere else to go, she took to the streets...or, in this case, the woods.
“Homelessness can happen to anybody,” Ray stated. “So many people live paycheck to paycheck and can end up on the streets in the blink of an eye. I never thought I would be in that position; it all happened so fast.”
Ray explained that she survived living outdoors by using camping skills learned while growing up out West, “but it was very scary. I never knew where my next meal was going to come from or where I would sleep that night. I lost a lot of weight and became very ill. I was always afraid of being attacked and prayed every night that somehow the next day would be better. I was so scared that I would never find a place to live.”
Fortunately, a friend of Ray’s reached out to the property management staff at The Warwick to let them know of Ray’s condition and they worked swiftly to find her a room in the 88-unit permanent supportive housing community owned and managed by CHP.
According to Property Manager Jacqueline Black, Ray was so dehydrated and hungry when she arrived at The Warwick that she could barely stand or sign her name on necessary paperwork. CHP’s staff immediately assisted Ray by connecting her with free medical services, food, and clothing. “I was near death,” confirmed Ray, “but as a resident of The Warwick, I was finally able to get access to healthcare and start feeling better.”
Black also helped Ray reconnect with her children living in California by setting Ray up with a Facebook account, taking a picture of her, and posting it on the social media site so that her children could see her. Ray said her family members, who had not had contact with their mother for almost two years, were “ecstatic” to hear from her. Ray is now frequently using the computers at The Warwick where she is actively looking for a job. "I feel so much more positive about my life now," Ray said.
“I love The Warwick. You don’t know how lucky I feel to be here. It’s so beautiful and I treasure my friends here. I’m grateful for a roof over my head and people like Jackie Black who have compassion in their heart. They probably don’t even realize, but CHP is saving lives.”