CCC Breaks Ground on New 51-unit Family Housing Community

Aug 03, 2017

On Wednesday, August 2, Central City Concern (CCC) broke ground on the first of three buildings in the Housing is Health initiative—a pioneering commitment from local hospitals and health systems in supportive, affordable housing. CCC also announced the name of the building—Charlotte B. Rutherford Place—which honors one of Portland’s pioneering African American families and their impact on the entire community.

Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Providence Health & Services - Oregon Regional Chief Executive Dave Underriner, KeyBank Key Community Development Corporation Vice President Beth Palmer Wirtz and the Honorable Charlotte Rutherford spoke.

The 51-unit apartment building (34 one-bedroom and 17 two-bedroom units) is part of the City of Portland’s N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy to address displacement and gentrification in the historic neighborhoods of North and Northeast Portland by prioritizing longtime or displaced residents with ties to the community for new affordable housing opportunities in the area.

Hon. Charlotte Rutherford is a community activist and former civil rights attorney, journalist, administrative law judge and entrepreneur. Her parents, Otto G. Rutherford and Verdell Burdine, were major figures in Portland’s Black civil rights struggle. Her father was president and her mother was secretary of Portland’s NAACP chapter in the 1950s, and they played an important role in passing the 1953 Oregon Civil Rights Bill. Her grandfather, William, ran a barbershop in the Golden West Hotel—now a CCC residential building—and Otto worked there as well. Charlotte still lives in Portland’s Albina District, in the same house in which she grew up.

     

"I'm so honored to accept this for the entire Rutherford family, especially my mom and dad," Ms. Rutherford said.

Charlotte Rutherford Place major contributors include KeyBank, Portland Housing Bureau, Oregon Housing and Community Services and the Housing is Health coalition of six health organizations: Adventist Health Portland, CareOregon, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Legacy Health, OHSU and Providence Health & Services - Oregon.

“The Housing is Health contribution is an excellent example of health care organizations coming together for the common good of our community. Housing for lower income working people is critical to the improvement of health outcomes.” said Ed Blackburn, CCC president and CEO. “This housing will remain affordable for generations and it couldn’t come at a better time.”

The design and development team is Home First, the architect is Doug Circosta and the builder is Silco Construction. CCC is engaged in a $3.5 million capital campaign to complete funding for three buildings that will all break ground by the end of October.



Getting the Most out of Life

May 30, 2017

I lost my kids at 26 years old. They were ages eight, seven, and three. The only one I got to keep was the one I was pregnant with. I turned 27 in jail, the baby due in three months, and nowhere to go when I got out. That’s when I turned to Central City Concern. Having been in my addiction on and off for 12 years, in and out of jail, homeless, and unable to take care of myself, let alone three little kids and a newborn, I was out of options. While in jail, someone told me about Central City Concern’s Letty Owings Center (a residential treatment program for pregnant women and those with young children).


I entered treatment on March 3, 2011—the day I stopped harming myself, and started healing. Going into an in-patient program was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There were schedules, expectations, lots of sharing, and so much emphasis on accountability and self-care. I gave birth to my son Tristyn while at Letty Owings Center. He was baby number 232 born to a clean and sober mother while at Letty Owings. I was so proud to be that mother. Tristyn was healthy, and I was fully committed to learning how to be the mom he needed. Letty Owings Center exposed me to a different way of thinking and gave me new skills like planning, healthy meal preparation, money management, handing conflicts in a respectful way, positive parenting, and patience. I used a lot of the tools they taught me while I attended ongoing treatment sessions and I still use the tools today. I learned to accept help, to live life on life’s terms, and most of all I learned how to stay positive and what it takes to be a good parent. The experience I got at Letty Owings Center set me free to seek a better life for me and my family.

After I completed in-patient treatment, Central City Concern provided Tristyn and me with a studio apartment at Laura’s Place (three to six months of transitional housing for women who complete treatment at Letty Owings Center). There was more flexibility at Laura’s Place but I still had a lot of work to do on myself so I stayed on a schedule and didn’t rush the healing process. I tried to remember everything I learned at Letty Owings Center and every day, I managed my life better and better. I did outpatient treatment at Central City Concern Recovery Center four times a week. I went to recovery meetings, mental health appointments, and made an effort to listen to others. I didn’t have to fake it anymore, or be afraid, because I was actually learning how to function in society. I wanted success and I wanted to get all my kids back so I could show them a different way of life than what we had during my addiction. I was inspired by other women who were facing similar challenges, and gained confidence every day. When a bigger unit became available, my daughter Cheyenne, who’d been in foster care for a year, was able to come live with us. Life was improving.

We lived at Laura’s Place for four months and then I was given the opportunity to move into a Central City Concern family housing community. That’s when my son Ellias and my daughter Reyna got to move in. I was drug- and alcohol-free, physically and mentally thriving, and had all four of my children under the same roof. The support I got while in family housing was amazing. I had a mentor who I still keep in touch with today. She helped me through the death of my best friend, and motivated me to keep making healthy decisions. I was able to go back to school and pursue a promising future—one that I was given the freedom to envision while in safe and secure Central City Concern family housing. 

Through it all, housing played the biggest role in my transformation. Housing was the first stable piece. Once I had housing I was able to work on everything else—my recovery, going to school, paying off student loans, getting employed and off public assistance, doing therapy with my children, and teaching my kids right from wrong. I was able to move from one step to the next, not out of desperation but out of growth and informed thinking. If you don’t have a place to call home, it’s hard to get any traction. 

Housing gave me peace of mind because I knew where my kids and I were going to be sleeping every night. It gave me a safe place to start getting the most out of life. I want to be a good mom for so many reasons. Most of all because my kids deserve it. I put them through the wringer with unpredictable behavior, foster care, and not being there when they needed me.

I want them to know that your past doesn’t have to be your future. I want them to know that life doesn’t have to involve a screaming mom. They’ve been so resilient and I am so proud. My kids are smart, respectful, and well behaved—not what you would expect after what they’ve been through. Today, they would describe me as strict, fair, and fun. I feel like that describes a good mom.

Every day I look in the mirror and I’m amazed: I look calm, I look happy and I look in control of my life. There are still challenges, but I take them on with a clear head—one day at a time. Six years ago I could not have imagined that I would be the person I am today. I’ve earned an Associate’s degree and am currently in school working toward a Bachelor’s in Human Development. I could not imagine that all four kids would be with me and that I would have my driver’s license back and that I would be where I’m at education wise, career wise, and family wise. Every single step I’ve taken along the way was fundamental in getting me where I am today. It all became possible when I was offered housing and got the support I needed in order to grow into the person my kids can count on. It all became possible through Central City Concern.



Another Successful We Are Family Fundraiser!

May 22, 2017

Central City Concern's annual fundraiser for the Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs took place on Tuesday, May 2, at the Multnomah Athletic Club.During the program, CCC's Dr. Rachel Solotaroff sat down with Jamie (right) and her son, Dante (center), to talk about how CCC's Letty Owings Center and Family Housing have changed their lives.CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn kicked off the program by welcoming the crowd of nearly 400.CCC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Solotaroff spoke about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), how they contribute to cycles of poverty, and how those cycles can and are broken.
Chief Housing & Employment Officer Sean Hubert spoke about generational poverty and the steps CCC is taking to provide housing for families in need.Former CCC Chief Administrative Officer Rebecca Birenbaum made a heartfelt pitch to the audience of the need to support CCC's Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs.Dante was a fantastic helper during the evening-ending raffle!We were thrilled to have Letty Owings Center Co-Founder Nancy Anderson (left) join us for the evening, pictured here with with CCC Executive Coordinator E.V. Armitage (right).The evening's entertainment was provided by  Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Famer Shirley Nanette.

Central City Concern's annual fundraiser for the Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs took place on Tuesday, May 2, at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Click on a photo to begin the slideshow.

• • •

On May 2, Central City Concern held our annual “We Are Family” fundraising dinner for Letty Owings Center, celebrating 20 years as a Central City Concern program, and our Family Housing programs. The big event took place for the fourth consecutive year at the Multnomah Athletic Club in southwest Portland. Rain couldn’t keep the partygoers away and a good time was had by all.

The evening’s program was led off by Executive Director Ed Blackburn, then Chief Housing and Employment Officer Sean Hubert offered thoughts on generational poverty and the steps Central City Concern is taking to provide housing for families in need. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Solotaroff followed Sean with powerful insight on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She spoke of how CCC addresses childhood trauma while helping people break the cycle of addiction and poverty.

Our featured guest was Family Housing resident and mother Jamie, along with her 10-year-old son Dante. Jamie shared her story of overcoming addiction in the safe and supportive environment of Letty Owings Center, a six-month residential addiction treatment program for pregnant women and those with young children. She also talked about her transition from Letty Owings Center to CCC Family Housing, where she has a family mentor, has learned basic money management, and continues to safely raise and care for her three children. Jamie’s goals include pursuing a career as a medical assistant after completing the prerequisites at Portland Community College.

Entertainment was provided by Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Famer Shirley Nanette and Friends. Stumptown Photo Booth added to the to the picture perfect night.

All in all, close to 400 guests attended to celebrate and support our families and raised over $120,000 for the Letty Owings Center, which has witnessed the births of more than 270 babies, and the Family Housing program, which is home to 154 families.



​‘Tis the season for CCC's Adopt-A-Child Program!

Nov 04, 2016

This year, Central City Concern opened a new building in Clackamas County, which became home to 60 families. That makes 148 families now living in Central City Concern family housing.

We are thankful for 236 children sleeping, learning, and growing in safe, supportive, and healthy homes. Now it’s time to give them some unforgettable holiday memories. Our goal is to make sure all 236 children have gifts to open this year.

     

Please consider fulfilling the wish list of one or more children by registering individually, or as a group, to help provide holiday presents for all. We will share the first name and gift wish list of each child you choose to adopt.

Additionally, here are a few other ways you can help during the holiday season:

- Start a Toy Drive at your workplace.
- Send gift cards for families to fulfill wish lists.

For more information on how you can get involved, please contact Melissa Bishop at 971-352-8715 or melissa.bishop@ccconcern.org.

Thank you so much!

 



CCC on NPR: TANF 20th Anniversary

Sep 09, 2016

We want to share a National Public Radio story (August 22, 2016) recognizing the 20th anniversary of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), which highlights Central City Concern’s (CCC) opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. Amber’s story of treatment for her addiction disorder and bringing her family back together is inspiring. Oregon is lucky compared to other states who haven’t supported the TANF program as well.

Of course, we were thrilled to get national recognition for CCC and Oregon’s strong programming to help families. The strength of Oregon’s support to needy families is, in part, due to the good work of the Oregon TANF Alliance*, a consortium of agencies. This alliance works with the Oregon legislature and the Oregon Department of Human Services to ensure the TANF program reaches every eligible family for the federally allowable time-limit of 5 years, protecting thousands of children from the most extreme form of family poverty: zero income. Without this cash benefit, as well the childcare expenses and the supportive case management services covered by TANF, thousands of families would be living on Portland’s streets.        


We were greatly relieved—for our own clients as well as for families across the state—that TANF funding was maintained and improved during the 2016 legislative session. It remains crucial to provide families with a firm pathway out of poverty and toward a more stable income—and TANF plays a major role in that support. Every day, CCC supports TANF families through treatment, housing and employment services. And we will continue to fight for TANF families both here in Oregon and at the federal level. Today, an Oregon family has to earn at or below a paltry 37 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for TANF cash assistance; that’s down from 59 percent when the program began in 1996. For a deeper understanding of TANF in Oregon over the past 20 years, we suggest a review of this recent blog post from the Oregon Center for Public Policy .

CCC collaborates with many others to fight poverty and end homelessness; it makes us stronger and more effective. We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Oregon TANF Alliance to help families in Oregon stay together and safe.

 

 



Town Center Courtyards Is Keeping Families Together

Jul 25, 2016

Amber L. is absolutely over the moon. The 27-year-old mom is moving back to Clackamas, Ore., where she grew up, into a brand new apartment. “I am so happy to be coming back with my son to a safe, beautiful home,” she told the crowd of close to 100 people who attended the grand opening of Town Center Courtyards on Wednesday, July 20.

Town Center Courtyards will become a stable, supportive home for families who are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness. The 60-unit, mixed-income apartment complex is a shining example of form and function. All the units have exterior doors and overlook courtyards where families can socialize and kids can play. The apartments are spacious and bright. There will be two Central City Concern (CCC) staff members on-site to help residents with life skills, employment, educational development, recovery, parenting and wellness support. The neighborhood is well located near public transportation, public schools, public parks, child care centers, grocery stores and numerous employment opportunities.

CCC Family Housing has served more than 1,000 families since 2000. Just last year, our Family Housing program served 122 families that included 189 children:

- 75 kids were able to stay with their families and avoid foster care.
- 79 of those families were able to find permanent housing.
- 30 of the parents found employment and 20 entered school. One parent even graduated from college.

But clients can wait as long as six months to access family housing. Town Center Courtyards will add 60 units (20 one-bedroom, one-bath; 32 two-bedrooms, one-bath; 8 three-bedrooms, 1.5 bath) to CCC’s existing 92 units of family housing.

Town Center Courtyards was completed on time and ahead of schedule. Families should start moving in during August. This is just one of several CCC affordable housing projects moving forward this summer.

Town Center Courtyards is the result of robust collaboration between CCC, Clackamas County, Oregon Housing & Community Services and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, as well as many foundations and individual donors. These partners are providing the opportunity for families to have a safe, affordable place to call home.

During the grand opening, Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader, Director of Clackamas County Housing & Community Development Chuck Robbins, Director of Oregon Housing & Community Services Claire Seguin, Vice-president of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation Ann Melone, and CCC’s Senior Director of Housing and Recovery Support Services Sharon Fitzgerald all spoke of the importance of supporting the community by providing affordable housing in which families can thrive.

Amber says she was filled with gratitude when she cut the ribbon to officially open Town Center Courtyards. “Thank you for making my dream come true," she said.



One Dad. One Daughter. One Day at a Time.

Jun 13, 2016

“We have a good relationship today,” says Easten B., of his daughter Zoe, an accomplished high school sophomore.

But things weren’t always that way. Easten was absent for six years of Zoe’s life battling drugs, alcohol, and homelessness. Since getting clean and sober almost three years ago, a lot has changed for Easten and Zoe. “It all started at Hooper,” he says, referring to Central City Concern’s Hooper Detox, where life took a dramatic turn for the better. It was there, in 2009 that Easten committed to “living a life free of fear, shame, and regret.” He wanted to be a good dad and he wanted to pursue his dream of owning a farm like his great-great grandfather once did.

Soon after completing treatment at Hooper Detox, Easten was accepted into Central City Concern’s Recovery Mentor Program, which included supportive housing in an alcohol- and drug-free environment at the Estate Hotel. He was surrounded by people who were hungry for a new way of life and positive change. He worked with CCC counselors and fellow residents to get and stay healthy. He joined the Community Volunteer Corps (CVC) and engaged in group projects that involved everything from pulling ivy at the Oregon Zoo to folding newsletters at the Hollywood Senior Center in northeast Portland.

“CVC gave me a sense of purpose—that is so important in early recovery.”

The following year he secured a 6-month trainee position in Central City Concern’s Downtown Clean and Safe program. He was able to get into a daily routine that not only added structure to his life, but also helped build self-esteem.

While in treatment at the Central City Concern Recovery Center, a counselor told Easten to work every day to get better. He told Easten to beware of life’s plateaus and to keep reaching for more.

So Easten has kept reaching. He recently began work with Progress Rail, a contracting company for Union Pacific Railroad, doing maintenance, safety tests, and inspections on train cars in the field. The job has enabled him to get his own apartment in northwest Portland. It’s a long way from the tent he used to live in under the St. Johns Bridge.

He’s also kept reaching in another important way: to be a good Dad to Zoe. To Easten, that means being “available, patient, understanding, and willing to love unconditionally.” Easten doesn’t want the disease of addiction to take away anymore birthdays, holidays, or opportunities to participate in his daughter’s life.

“I wasn’t good at being a dad the first time around, and I’m so grateful to get another chance. I taught Zoe to fish and to skateboard. And now I’m teaching her to drive.”

Zoe is a standout student who makes her father proud. He sees unlimited potential in the effort she puts forth every day in and out of the classroom.

“She’s in a Technical Theater Program and signs fluently. Her choir took first place in a big competition this year and she competed in Battle of the Books. She’s a good student who’s outgoing and cares a lot for others. All of this is a big deal to me,” says Easten. “She’s going to be great ... I know it.”

“My mind and body are healthier than ever now,” Easten shares. “I couldn’t have done any of this without Central City Concern.”

• • •

Honor Easten or any father by making a donation to Central City Concern today.



CCC Makes Progress on Affordable Housing in Portland

Jun 09, 2016

As the days get longer and warmer, Central City Concern is moving forward on exciting affordable housing projects this summer to serve the Portland Metro area!

• • •

Hill Park Apartments

On Wednesday, May 25, community members, funders, and staff gathered in the Lair Hill neighborhood in Southwest Portland to break ground on the site of Hill Park Apartments, a new 39-unit housing community. Eight of the units will be for individuals living with serious mental illness, while the remaining 31 apartments will be for low-income households; many of those units will be filled by graduates of CCC programs who have gained employment with the help of the Employment Access Center.

CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn thanked partners, followed by remarks from Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Jill Sherman of Gerding Edlen Development, and Michael Montgomery of U.S. Bank. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Kurt Creager of Portland Housing Bureau, and representatives from our many partners and funders also attended the groundbreaking.

Hill Park Apartments will open in Spring 2017.


Town Center Courtyards

A new 60-unit, permanent supportive housing apartment community comprised of one, two, and three bedroom units in Clackamas is nearly complete. This affordable housing will serve individuals and families earning less than 60 percent of area median family income, meeting one or more of the following: in recovery from alcohol and/or drug abuse, homeless families with children, survivors of domestic violence, and families working toward reunification and regaining custody of children from protective services and foster care.

Town Center Courtyards is scheduled to open in August 2016.


Miracles Central

This six-story, 47-unit housing development in the Lloyd District is a collaboration between CCC and the Miracles Club, a partner recovery-based organization focused on Portland’s African-American community. The building will consist of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, intended as peer-based recovery housing for singles and families.

Miracles Central is schedule to open by August 2016.

• • •

CCC gratefully relies on support from community partners and donors to develop affordable and supportive housing projects that lift up our community and provide hopeful futures for people in Portland. We are working on additional construction that could add hundreds of affordable housing units to the Portland Metro area in the near future. Stay tuned!



Holiday Adopt-a-Child Needs Your Help!

Nov 24, 2015

Season's greetings! The cold weather abruptly rolling into Portland reminds us that the holidays are getting closer. Soon many of use will be getting ready for the holidays, thinking of preparing special meals, and buying the perfect gifts for our loved ones.

Parents in Central City Concern's family housing are doing the same. But for many of these parents, it is a time of stress and worry about how they are going to make these special memories for their families.
 
Before letting you know how you can help, we want to share this short video of Randi with you. She is an example of how living in a supportive environment like Central City Concern can transform people's lives.
 
Like Randi's mom said in the video, "it takes a village, and that's truly what Central City Concern is." You are a part of that village!

Now, how can you help? Central City Concern's Family Housing has an annual “Holiday Adopt-A-Child Program” and with your help we can bring much joy and unexpected happiness to the 88 families who currently live in our low-income and drug-free communities.

These moms and dads have made a commitment to become better parents and community members. Some juggle employment with school, and others are just starting the path to a better way of life. They are all in need of some assistance during the holiday season.

Here are a few ways you can help.

1)  Register to Adopt-A-Child for this Holiday Season
You can register to adopt one or as many as children as you wish. We will provide the first name and gift wish list of each child you choose. Please contact Catharine Hunter as soon as possible to get registered: e-mail her at catharine.hunter@ccconcern.org or call her directly at 503-200-3903.

2) Send a gift card
We encourage the donation of gift cards for our families. Over the years, we’ve learned that gift cards are deeply appreciated by families because they not only provide supplemental holiday items, but they also give parents the opportunity to personally purchase items for their children.

Please send gift cards to
Attention: Catharine Hunter
Central City Concern
232 NW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

3) Purchase and deliver items from our Gift Ideas list
Based upon children’s wish lists, we have compiled a general Gift Ideas list from which you may purchase individual items.

These items can be dropped off at the following:
Central City Concern Administration Office
232 NW 6th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

OR

Central City Concern Sunrise Place
5724 NE Prescott
Portland, OR 97218
Saturday, December 12th and/or Sunday, December 13th between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
 
If you would like to arrange a time outside of these options please contact Catharine Hunter at 503-200-3903!
 
We are very grateful for you partnering with our Holiday Adopt-A-Child Program this year and look forward to hearing from you. Your contribution to this program will make such a big difference in the lives of many Portland families during the winter holidays.



Leslie's Story

Aug 26, 2015

As a kid growing up in Oregon City, Leslie P. always loved the start of a new school year. 

Not because it meant shopping for new clothes. Not because it meant she’d get to show off her smarts in class. Not because it meant she’d get to see all of her friends everyday. Leslie P. loved the start of a new school year because it meant she’d have a safe place to go for seven hours a day, five days a week. 

Leslie’s mom died when she was a baby. Not long after, Leslie’s alcoholic, drug-dealing dad sent her to live with her grandparents. The one rule there she and her older brother had to abide by? Be out of the living room by 5 p.m. so Grandpa could drink his drink and watch the TV news. 

And so began a childhood of being shuttled from one drug-addicted relative to another, one foster home to another. In spite of the chaos, “I didn’t get into too much trouble,” Leslie says. “But I went over to the wrong houses so bad things happened to me . . . .” 

No wonder Leslie sometimes looked for hiding places when it came time to board the 3 p.m. school bus back home. 

At age eight, Leslie picked up cigarettes. At age 13, she picked up pot. Then came alcohol, methamphetamines, pain pills, and heroin. She dropped out of high school, found work at a fast food restaurant, and intermittently continued to ply a trade she learned from her dad when she was a teenager—drug dealing. 

Over the next several years, Leslie would get it together for a few months, then slide back into addiction, couch-surfing, and chaos—a cycle that continually repeated itself. At age 20, she gave birth to first child, Joshua. Six years later, Emma arrived. Three years later, Leslie was arrested for dealing drugs. Leslie’s children were placed in foster care—just like she had been. 

That quiet little voice in her head that had been telling her to get help finally roared. “I couldn’t function. I couldn’t parent my kids. I couldn’t take care of myself.” 

Leslie discovered she was pregnant with a third child. She begged for help. The judge and attorneys on her case arranged for reduced jail time and a referral to Central City Concern’s Letty Owings Center, a residential addiction treatment center for women in poverty who are pregnant or parenting young children. Finally, Leslie’s life began to turn around. 



When she entered the Letty Owings Center in March 2012, Leslie began learning the life skills her own parents never taught her. Emma came to live with her there five months later. 

Leslie was worried. “I had missed her whole year of preschool. She was going to be a kindergartener. I wondered how I was going to get her school supplies and clothing.” 

Central City Concern helped them get everything Emma would need to start kindergarten right. 

A month later, in September 2012, Leslie gave birth to Malakai. In October she, Emma, and Malakai moved into one of Central City Concern’s alcohol- and drug-free family housing communities for women with children. There, Leslie continued to receive support and guidance from addiction treatment specialists, case managers, certified peer mentors, and employment specialists

“When I moved in, all the girls came over and helped me, and cooked dinner for me, and made it feel like home. It was like I found a new family. I had unconditional support.” 

Leslie is now working full-time as an entry-level administrative assistant and pursuing an associate’s degree at Portland Community College. And she is trying to be the best mom she can be so her kids don’t have to have the kind of childhood she did. Right now, that means letting her first-born son, Joshua, stay with his dad.*

And it also means getting Emma ready to start third grade. “I want school to be a place where Emma learns about everything and anything she wants. I don’t want it to be the same way it was for me—a place where I went to hide from things that were hurting me. I want it to be a place where Emma can follow her dreams.” 

Emma tore through her summer reading list. The family’s morning routine includes Emma reading out loud to Malakai at the breakfast table. Leslie hopes this practice will better prepare Malakai for when it’s time for him to start school. 

Leslie is grateful to be in Central City Concern’s safe, supportive, affordable housing as she continues in this new phase of her life. And she’s grateful for the opportunity to be a good neighbor and role model, giving back to the people who are just starting out at Central City Concern. 

“I have a job, an apartment, my kids. Had I continued on the path that I was on, I wouldn’t be alive right now. My kids wouldn’t have a mom. I’m in a really different place right now. It’s an amazing feeling.” 

You can help other moms like Leslie! Click here to donate to Central City Concern.

*We recently had a chance to reconnect with Leslie and she had some wonderful news to share. Soon after this story was published, Joshua moved in with Leslie, Emma, and Malakai. Leslie was so happy to share this amazing update with us. She says her home now feels complete.