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Residents of Emma Norton Services Share Their Stories

by Elliott Wright

Founded in 1917, Emma Norton Services is a national mission institution related to the Women's Division providing affordable housing and comprehensive services for homeless women and families in Minnesota.

In May this year, four residents of Emma Norton Services told their stories to a gathering of residents, staff, volunteers and donors. Their stories remind us that any one can become homeless and that many of the causes for homelessness affect all of us at one time or another.

Poverty and the lack of affordable housing are two of the principal causes of homelessness but other factors also contribute to it. These can include low wages, loss of benefits, unstable employment, changes in welfare programs, limited subsidized housing, mental and physical health problems, domestic violence and/or chemical dependency.

It’s when these causes begin to pile on that some people or families are no longer able to cope and become homeless.

Teri, a married mother with five children was one of these families. She moved from shelter to shelter for three years before moving into Emma’s Place last September. Her children were suffering from many of the problems common to children of homeless families, including learning difficulties and behavior problems.

Although Teri’s story is still in progress, she is very grateful to Emma’s Place for the distance she’s traveled. She now has a nursing assistant degree and plans to pursue a full nursing degree. Happily, her children participate in Emma’s after school activities and are excelling in school.

Our speakers told similar stories of how far they’ve come. Steve, the first father at Emma’s Place, talked about how Emma’s has helped him gain custody and build a home for his three children who would otherwise have been placed in foster care.

Denise, a bright and happy woman, had suffered from years of chemical use, depression and anxiety disorders. Over a period of two years, she successfully completed the dual disorder and transitional housing programs at Emma Norton Residence and just graduated from college!

Julie moved into the Residence after losing her job and home because of mental and chemical health issues. She is focused on rebuilding relationships with her family and especially her son. She says, “Emma Norton came along at a time when I had no place else to go...”

Each of these stories is about someone like you or me; someone with the same kinds of problems, but possibly not the same resources to overcome them. Emma Norton Services has taken on the responsibility to help them—to invest in their future.

Won’t you help, too?

Date posted: Apr 27, 2004