Thanksgiving is a time when we reflect on the things for which we are grateful — family, friends, lots of food, a warm home. This year, Dawn and her cat Freddie have more to be thankful for than most of us can ever imagine.
About three years ago, Dawn decided to pursue recovery from years of addiction. She left an unhealthy living situation, sleeping in her car until it was too cold and later finding refuge in a shelter. She got clean and eventually moved into her own apartment. Happy ending, right?
Not so fast.
Just when she was getting on her feet, Dawn’s 24-year-old son died of a drug overdose, a cruel reminder that addiction rarely digs its talons into just one person in a family. The painful loss threatened her recovery. Trying desperately to avoid a relapse, she got rid of all her belongings and left the state to try and process her grief.
Nearly two years later, Dawn returned to rebuild her life and reconnect with family. She quickly found a job, but she and her cat Freddie — her closest companion during her darkest days — struggled to find a safe place to sleep. She wound up at Hundred Nights, where the staff helped her connect with a program to temporarily house her cat while she focused on regaining her footing.
Hundred Nights gave her a friendly place to shower, get warm, sleep and, as Dawn puts it, “feel like a human being”. She adds that she doesn’t know where she would be without the support of Hundred Nights. Today, she and Freddie are incredibly thankful, as they have been reunited in their own safe apartment.
Dawn’s story is just one of many at Hundred Nights: a pregnant mother, a veteran with alcoholism, a family of four, an elderly woman whose basement flooded and her savings dried up.
Whether or not they are also facing addiction, disability or mental illness, many people struggle to achieve a stable cycle of home and work. But not every experience of homelessness is lifelong, and an emergency shelter is a safety net when a lay-off, a natural disaster or a medical emergency turns a hypothetical into a tragic reality.
Regardless of the circumstances, Hundred Nights steps in year-round — need doesn’t just materialize when it’s cold. The Hundred Nights shelter is best-known, giving people a safe place to stay when they have no other options, but that’s not all we do to help people get back on their feet. Our resource center allows us to offer hot meals and a place to commune. It also enables us to help people draft resumes, prepare for job interviews, apply for housing and connect with other agencies. The goal is always to help people return United to stability — to help people like Dawn recover from life’s toughest moments.
As you think about what you are thankful for this year, please think about helping people like Dawn and the hundreds of others who have no other place to go. Your gift of $1,000 to Hundred Nights can help keep people off the streets during the coldest nights. A gift of $500 can provide resources so women can get identification cards, find a safe place to call home and feed their families. And gifts of $100, or $50 or $20 can bring hope to those who are struggling to keep their heads above water. Your support matters, both to those of us who work or volunteer at Hundred Nights, but more importantly, it matters to people like Dawn.
Thank you for giving as generously as you can in this season of gratitude. The joy you share through that simple act will save lives and give people hope. I can’t imagine anything more meaningful than that.
PS: Those who come to our doors are facing a harsh winter — in fact, our shelter is already full. Please give a gift now to help more women, men and children like Dawn “get warm and feel like a human being”. Then we can, together, give thanks for a community where many Dawns and Freddies can return to the warmth of home.