It takes immense courage to leave an abusive relationship. And the price paid for that bravery is often great. For Artessa, leaving meant the new reality of homelessness.
“I’ve never been in a situation in my life where I needed help. One day, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I left with nothing but the clothes on my back. I chose to be on the streets rather than remain in that relationship,” she said.
Artessa struggled to survive while homeless and knew she wanted more for her life. She accessed services by completing a Coordinated Assessment, the primary tool used by local organizations like Caritas of Austin to prioritize housing for those who need it most.
In late 2019, Artessa regained a stable place to call home. But that was only the beginning on rebuilding well-being in her life.
“Being homeless strips you down of everything: your memories, the person you are. You are so focused on a place to sleep or having something to eat that day. Once you’re housed, you’re still somewhat lost. You have to remember how to start things over again,” she said.
Artessa spent the next several months focusing on her mental health, addressing the depression and PTSD that emerged from the traumatic experience on homelessness.
In 2020, she was connected to Caritas of Austin’s Employment team for support in re-entering the professional world. The Caritas team helps hundreds of people each year with job applications, interviewing, professional training, and resources for uniforms, equipment, childcare, and transportation – all of which can present barriers for someone re-launching their career.
Artessa and her Employment Specialist explored what she liked and didn’t enjoy about previous industries she had worked in, and what she felt she could handle as they applied for potential jobs. Soon, she was hired as a Sales Associate at a local retail store. Quickly, she moved from part-time to full-time, and within months, she was promoted to Supervisor.
“This job was really good for my self-esteem. It helped me remember that the girl I was before was still in there. I didn’t lose that girl,” said Artessa proudly.
When the Caritas of Austin team identifies housing and employment opportunities for people, clients determine where they want to settle and reintegrate back into the fabric of the city. This is a critical piece of our personalized approach to ending homelessness.
Artessa loves where she lives now and that her job is so close to home. “I feel like I am a part of Austin again, and I can contribute something just like others have done for me,” she said.
With a strong sense of well-being restored, Artessa is now focused on the future instead of the past.
“I’m not mad about what I went through. I’m stronger than I thought I was. I love who I am now, and I’m better than I was before. I am truly content with who I am and where I’m going. You can’t walk forward when you’re looking backward, “ Artessa said.
Specifically, she’s looking forward to a milestone birthday for herself next year and is saving up for a vacation to celebrate with her four adult children. Your support gives resilient people like Artessa the support and resources to regain stability and begin to dream again. Thank you for your partnership in ending homelessness in Austin!