“C’mon in, y’all.” — Ms. Sonia moves into her house.

At age 64, Ms. Sonia just moved into her own apartment in Central City. She especially loves this gently used armchair. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she said.
She walked into her bedroom and set down her life’s belongings, including a few bags of clothes and a
special blanket that carries great meaning for her.

Dear Friend,

A few days ago, Ms. Sonia moved into her own apartment.

The UNITY Outreach Team, which I direct, found Ms. Sonia on Canal Street and brought her to the Womanspace shelter.

On Sunday, Ms. Sonia moved into her own permanent apartment, where she will receive ongoing case management services, designed to keep her stably housed and get her the healthcare that she needs.

Staff from the UNITY warehouse brought her furnishings and household supplies, some new and some gently used.  Sonia helped to arrange everything the way she wanted it — a sofa and armchair with wooden edging in the front room, a table and chairs, kitchen items and a brand-new bed for her room in the back.

In her clean new bathroom, she took a bath. She felt like a new person, she said.

Next, Ms. Sonia had to do one more thing. She reached into one of her big plastic bags, took out a freshly cleaned plush sherpa blanket. and smoothed it on top of her bed.

I will always keep this blanket, she said, remembering a cold, slightly rainy night when she’d placed her cardboard under the highway overpass near Loyola Avenue.  A woman in a car saw her and stopped, Ms. Sonia said. “She took this out of her bag and said that she had just bought it for herself, but it looked like I needed it more.”

“I was so grateful to her. It gave this blanket great sentimental value,” Ms. Sonia said.

Thinking about that moment, she ran to her table, to try and find the right psalm in her Bible to express herself. It had something to do with leaving home empty and coming home with sheaves of wheat, she said, recalling a lesson she was taught when she was young.  Basically, she says, it was about “unexpected abundance.”

I often feel a sense of wonder at the miracle of helping a vulnerable person who had been suffering in homelessness finally become housed again — and get a new lease on life.

This week, Ms. Sonia looked out her window, at a serene live oak standing in the neutral ground. That view made her feel so peaceful, she said, as she walked out her door, to breathe in the fresh air.

But she doesn’t want to look to her right.

In that direction, she can see the overpass she slept under. She’d seen that view when she’d first driven up, after visiting her mental-health clinic with her caseworker. “”I remembered all the agony,” she said.

She remembers seeing the vehicles go past in the morning, the kids on their way to school and the people on their way to offices downtown. She felt ashamed, she said. “I was embarrassed, but I had no choice.”

Most of the unhoused people we help are, like Ms. Sonia, from the greater New Orleans area. We are also seeing more homeless women and elders like her. Over the past year alone, the number of homeless women rose 17%.

With a sweet grin, Ms. Sonia opens her door, “C’mon in, y’all,” she says. She’s home.

Today, I am grateful to all of you who are a part of that miracle of ending homelessness. To everyone who understands that thousands of disadvantaged people in our community are suffering as rents skyrocket.

I am asking you to consider making a donation of whatever you can afford, to help people overcome homelessness and move into permanent housing in our community.

If you are able to give now, you can help us meet our goal of raising $40,000 for #GiveNOLA Day, for the essentials that help end people’s homelessness but are not covered by our federal rental-assistance grants or other resources.

GiveNOLA Day is Tuesday, May 7, but early giving has begun! If you’re able, please consider giving early TODAY to give vulnerable people, like Ms. Sonia, the safety and security of home. 

Just click on the gold box below. We appreciate your gift. Thank you very much for your care and generosity.

Angela Patterson
UNITY of Greater New Orleans Deputy Director

P.S. Thank you so much for all the kind words that my Outreach Team hears from our community, as we work to move people from the streets into their own apartments. As a native New Orleanian, I know that I can count on you as a caring person, to help ensure that each of our neighbors has a home.

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