Everyone Deserves a Home for the Holidays

| November 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

Laura, a client of Unity GNO

Dear Friend,

Do you remember what your life was like 20 years ago?  Maybe you were just starting your career or family. Maybe you were still in school. Maybe you were midway through your earning years and beginning to dream of retirement.

Laura remembers what her life was like…

She was 15 and on the drill team at her Uptown New Orleans high school.  She was dreaming about her future.  She graduated from high school, and worked hard – as a restaurant cashier, a hotel housekeeper, and a security guard.  She even earned her Certified Nursing Assistant credential. But in her 20s, she developed a serious neurological disorder that gravely impaired her ability to walk and talk – just as her father had experienced years earlier.

By the time she was only 35 years old, her condition had so deteriorated that Laura found herself  homeless and sleeping on the street.

When UNITY Outreach Worker Joycelyn Scott met her, Laura had been sleeping outside  because the only available shelter bed was a top bunk, and she lacked the strength to climb up to it.  Watching Laura cling to the walls in order to walk, Joycelyn said to her, “I’m not going to allow you to go back to the streets.”

Here at UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a nonprofit that has led our community’s efforts to house the homeless for the past 26 years, we are used to seeing people living in wretched circumstances.  Sad stories are no stranger to us. Every person abandoned to the streets has a story that can break your heart.

But there was something especially heart-breaking about Laura… barely able to walk or talk, nonetheless she seemed unquestionably resolved to make things better.  She had faith that things could get better for her.

Thanks to you, today Laura is filled with hope.  

UNITY immediately placed Laura in our  Safe Haven Women’s Shelter. She began receiving case management support immediately from our member agency NAMI New Orleans.

“It’s been like watching a baby learn to walk all over again,” says Joycelyn about the progress Laura has made.  UNITY’s staff offered Laura a walker to help support her—but she refused it.  They offered her a cane, and she refused that as well. With better sleep, sufficient food, and medical care, a miracle happened —  Laura’s condition began to improve.  

Just a few weeks ago, Laura made her way into our Outreach office, and she was able to effectively communicate verbally for the first time since we met her.  What were the words she was finally able to speak?  She asked to see Joycelyn so she could thank her.  “UNITY is a great place,” she said.

Laura will stay with us at the Safe Haven until she is well enough to move into one of our Permanent Supportive Housing programs.  There she will have an apartment of her own, with rent assistance and frequent home visits from a case manager. Laura is excited about the prospect of finally having a home of her own.

Laura doesn’t like to dwell on the past.  As she herself has taught us, the past is not so important when you are resolved to have a better future.

With your support, you have given Laura a future.  Every day, Laura seems to get a little stronger.  Even with her illness, “I can still do a lot of good,” she says.  She wants to help others by sharing her story with you in hopes that more homeless people can be helped.   

Without you, Laura  would still be living on the street.  Not able to walk. Not able to talk. Vulnerable to assault.  Not able to pull herself into a bed at a shelter.

Thank you for saving Laura from that fate and for giving her a new future. Your gift today will help Laura and other vulnerable people overcome homelessness, moving off the streets and  on a path to a happy future. With your help, as part of our Home for the Holidays Campaign, UNITY and our partners hope to house over 70 homeless people with disabilities and 60 homeless families in their own apartments this winter.

Please help by giving via the Donate Now button below. Thank you for your compassion and your help to house the most vulnerable people in our community.


Martha Kegel

Executive Director

P.S.—Laura wants to thank everyone who helps to house the homeless.  She is one of many women facing homelessness today. Your gift can change a life.  Please send your support today!

Category: Blog, Recent News, Success Stories

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