Regina never imagined homelessness could happen to her
Regina is proof that experiencing homelessness can happen to anyone. Originally from Kentucky, Regina received her Master’s in Genetics from the University of Kentucky and taught high school chemistry and physics. After a few years, she shifted careers to become a program manager of a residential treatment center for troubled teens. She later transitioned to real estate where she worked for 20 years, earning a six figure income.
“I loved working,” Regina said. “It was very rewarding.”
It was during her real estate career that Regina began experiencing serious medical issues. Seeing herself as fat, she had begun using diet pills, living by the saying “you can never be too skinny or too rich.” But her usage of diet pills ultimately led to a ruptured appendix. Other serious medical issues came to the surface and she was unable to work for an extended period of time.
Regina’s sister, who lived in California, convinced her to move across country to live with her. It was a move that proved to be disastrous. Soon after moving in, her sister’s new boyfriend also moved into the house. Still unable to work, Regina relied on her sister for support but when they lost their home, so did Regina. For a long time, the three of them lived in the boyfriend’s pick-up truck.
He was verbally, mentally and physically abusive. As Regina said, “He was mean” and would sometimes force her out, leaving her to sleep wherever she could find a place. Regina said that she had always had a lot of self-confidence before but this experience destroyed it.
“The most difficult part was feeling like you didn’t have anybody who cared about you,” Regina said.
Regina hoped that other relatives in Austin would be able to help, but when she arrived she once again found herself living on the streets and desperately trying to find a safe place to be. “I was sleeping behind garbage dumpsters. It was scary, it really was,” she said.
In time, Regina found Caritas of Austin and we were able to get her into housing quickly. Happy to have her own home again, she was anxious to begin rebuilding her life and had a long list of things she wanted to do. At the top of that list was getting her Texas driver’s license so she could feel like she belonged here.
Readjusting to having her own home hasn’t always been easy. Her case manager told her there would be ups and downs. She was right. The trauma Regina has experienced has caused setbacks, but Regina says she’s happy now.
“I can’t explain just what a great difference they made in my life. They got me off the street. Anything they can help me with, they do. I’ll always be eternally grateful for Caritas for making me feel like a valued person again.”
In large part, Regina is happy now because support from this community makes it possible to not only get her into a permanent home, but also provide the wrap-around services that help build her well-being.
“I think I’ve grown emotionally. I’m really happy. I go to bed happy. I wake up happy. I deserve to be happy. I’ve come a long ways.”
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