Fawn, her 16-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter struggled for years to find a place to live that Fawn could afford. When the program where they were living announced they had to leave, Fawn’s fears escalated and turned into her new reality. She was homeless. Her children were homeless.
“They wouldn’t even give me two months for the kids to finish school,” Fawn says. “I got evicted and then, lost my job and then, it all went down the drain.”
Fawn and the children slept on the couches of friends and relatives for a while and she would call local shelters to inquire if they had room for her family.. her entire family. Most Denver shelters that care for families won’t allow teenage boys to stay the night as a safety precaution. Fawn’s son Kiko turned 16 in the Summer of 2018.
There were nights when Fawn’s children slept on couches at her older daughter’s home but she was living on the streets. She had lost all hope and then, one day she got a phone call from Samaritan House. There was a room waiting for her and both her children. They could live together in the same room, have access to meals, hot showers, clean clothes, counseling, job placement services, health services, money-management classes and a host of family-bonding activities.
“There are angels at Samaritan House,” Fawn says. Once there, Fawn had a restored hope and a new focus on her life. Things started to turn around.
Catholic Charities of Denver runs Samaritan House. It’s slogan is: “It’s not just a place to sleep. We provide a place for new beginnings.”
Samaritan House has a men’s dorm room with 126 beds, a women’s dormer with 48 beds and then, 21 individual family rooms for up to 75 children. Upcoming renovations to the family floor will allow for more families to be able to stay at Samaritan House.
Each resident is matched with a case manager who helps him/her navigate their 120-day stay. Fawn is proud of the fact that she was able to move out after 64 days with a secure job and housing for her family. Up to 91% of Samaritan House residents leave with a good-paying job and the majority have affordable place to live.
“I’m stable at a good job,” Fawn says. “I’ve built a lot of self-esteem at Samaritan House to be able to perform well at my job and provide for my children.”
Fawn’s relationship with her children is tight and one of respect and love. The trauma of not having a home bonded them but staying at Samaritan House together allowed them to address their goals together and grow stronger as a family.
“I love my mom so much,” Kiko says. “She’s one of the most hard-working people I’ve ever seen.” Kiko is proud of the his one-on-one talks with his mom where he would acknowledge her resiliency and where he would let her know he is stronger as a young man with her as his role model.
Kiko also credits the staff and programming at Samaritan House for his family’s success.
“I like the people at Samaritan House,” Fawn’s son Kiko says. “The people are so nice and they’re so kind and they actually help. They actually listen. They take their time out.. their own time.. even off work, if they can to help.”
“I made a lot of friends at Samaritan House,” Fawn said. “They’re all in my heart. They’re helping us. They’ve helped us and I feel like I can help them.”
“Fawn builds up other people,” Samaritan House Family Services Case Manager Chris O’Connell says. “She came in and was a little nervous but she used her magnetic personality to get all of us to really motivate around her and support her to the best of our ability.. and she did the rest.”
Fawn admits one of the hardest parts of her transition out of homelessness was believing in herself.
“I was very broken when I got here,” Fawn says. “I just thought I wasn’t good enough. This place gave me the support because they knew I could do it. They knew I could.”
Fawn and her family moved out of Samaritan House in April of 2019. I reconnected with them in September and they seemed even more self-assured and self-reliant. Fawn is confident and happy to be providing for her well-adjusted and wise Kiko and outgoing and bubbly Jaydin.
Jaydin let me know … “so far, life is good!”
If you or someone you know needs help with a safe place to stay at night, here are the shelters in Northern Colorado run by Catholic Charities:
Samaritan House, 2301 Lawrence St., Denver
Samaritan House Women’s Shelter
(Must be at Samaritan House, 2301 Lawrence St., Denver, by 6 p.m.)
The Mission – Fort Collins
Guadalupe Community Center – Greeley
Marisol Homes, Denver metro area
Individuals and families who meet the following criteria are welcome to participate in the Samaritan House lottery system:
- Applicant must live independently and harmoniously within housing.
- Applicant must agree to participate in the supportive services offered.
- Applicant must agree to remain drug-free and alcohol-free.