Carole is drawing again, a passion she abandoned after years of living on the streets of Eugene. “I tried for a while, but my sketches would get wet or destroyed or stolen,” she says. “Eventually I lost the urge to do it anymore.”
Three years ago Carole lost everything when she left home to escape her abusive husband. For several months she stayed with friends, crashing on couches and floors, but eventually Carole ran out of options. Without a roof over her head, 100 percent of Carole’s energy was focused on day-to-day survival.
“Everything takes forever when you’re homeless,” explains Carole. “If I wanted a shower it was a two-hour walk across town.”
Living on the streets is exhausting and dangerous. Homeless people, especially women, are highly vulnerable to sexual and physical assault. While homeless Carole became involved with a man (also homeless), whom she thought would protect her. Instead, he was controlling and violent.
When Carole entered ShelterCare’s Homeless Medical Recuperation program, she had been in the hospital for 90 days recovering from injuries inflicted by her boyfriend. She suffered head trauma, a torn ligament in her knee, and had an abscess on her thigh. When she was admitted the infection was so bad, her doctors weren’t positive they could save her leg.
Carole underwent multiple surgeries to repair her leg, including a skin graft. During her stay, Carole also learned she had schizophrenia, as well as severe anxiety Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “I had no idea,” she says, “I knew I heard things that other people didn’t,” she says, “but I just thought it was stress.”
Examples of Carole’s artwork
At Homeless Medical Recuperation ShelterCare helped Carole get to and from her medical follow-up appointments, provided nutritious meals, and completed a housing assessment, which is the first step to getting on the City’s centralized waiting list for subsidized housing. ShelterCare also helped Carole apply for SNAP and Social Security benefits.
Homeless Medical Recuperation is a 22-bed facility that provides safe, temporary housing for people who are homeless and recently have been discharged from the hospital after an acute medical episode, yet still require limited care. During their post-hospital recuperation, individuals can focus on their health needs while our caregivers help them create sustainable connections to community resources and medical providers.
Carole was placed on two housing waiting lists, and before her stay with Homeless Medical Recuperation was over she got word that an apartment was available through another ShelterCare program. Carole’s physical health continues to improve and she is hoping to enroll in school soon to pursue an art degree.
“I’m in love with my apartment,” Carole says. “Having a safe place to live is allowing to grow as a person and as an artist.” “Here,” she continues, “I have closets. I can plan a meal. I can have art on the walls. I am so grateful for everything ShelterCare has done for me.”