A “survivor.” That’s how Cindy, a ShelterCare resident at the Riverbend Supportive Community in Eugene, describes herself. It’s hard to argue with that self-assessment after hearing her reflect on a life filled with challenge after challenge.
For the 44-year-old, life’s roadblocks came early and often. After growing up in a household in which she says she suffered “every abuse you can imagine,” a respite came in the form of drugs starting at age 18.
“It was the first time I felt like I belonged somewhere,” Cindy said. “That’s what got me into the drugs – the people were like me.” For approximately the next two decades, Cindy struggled to survive. For three years prior to 2012, she lived in a tent in the woods and “mud” in the outskirts of Springfield with her dog, Micky.
While she admits she essentially “gave up on myself” while she was homeless, others in the community didn’t. Among other things, she said her long-time counselor at Options Counseling and Family Services helped her seek out housing, and members of The Restoration Fellowship in Springfield, “showed us they loved us just for being people, and believed in me —which helped me believe in myself.”
Last year, she was accepted into the Riverbend Supportive Community — a program featuring 90 apartment units serving adults with psychiatric disabilities — and her life trajectory changed dramatically.
“People seem to think that if you are homeless that there are so many programs out there that will help, but that’s not always true,” she said. “I was pretty hopeless of ever getting a place again, so it’s meant a lot. I have a place over my head. I know we are safe, and I’ve had a lot of personal growth since I’ve been here.”
Because she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, she recognizes that her challenges will continue. However, as a part of the ShelterCare community, she also knows she is not alone.
“Cindy is doing well,” said Tim Rockwell, a Riverbend case manager. “She is very easy to work with because she puts forth the effort and work necessary to achieve the goals she sets.”
As for the future, she says she’ll keep battling. Eventually, she hopes to re-connect with her youngest son, now 19, as the two are currently not speaking. But, as always, she says she will persevere.
“I’m hoping that someday he’ll see that I’m not the same person.”