New ShelterCare program helps family stay together while working toward dreams

(l-r) Kelly, Brian and Jazzmyne

Brian, 38, and Kelly, 35, originally met at Elmira High School, when he was a junior and she a freshman. After going their separate ways when Brian left high school, the pair experienced a series of challenges related to drug use and broken relationships.

In 2012 — nearly 20 years after breaking up — Brian reconnected with Kelly via Facebook.  Soon after, the couple was reunited.

Approximately six months after rekindling a relationship with Kelly, Brian received a phone call from his daughter, Jazzmyne, who was living in Ohio with his ex-wife. Jazzmyne, now 18, needed a place to stay after her mother left the Pacific Northwest with her brothers and sisters.

Soon after reaching out, Jazzmyne joined Kelly and Brian in Oregon. However, in 2013, Jazzmyne was placed in a residential treatment facility after suffering severe negative side effects of medication.

To help support Jazzmyne’s recovery, Brian complied with Department of Human Services (DHS) parent training to acquire skills to help the family navigate their difficult challenges. Soon, Jazzmyne was back home and living with Brian and Kelly. 

Last year, facing mounting financial challenges and the danger of losing housing, the couple connected with ShelterCare’s SPRF program. SPRF, which stands for, “Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families,” was launched last year in coordination with DHS.

Through this program, child welfare refers families who are unstably housed to ShelterCare. Families benefit from pinpointed financial aid — such as assistance with application fees and move-in costs — and case management.

Since their initial contact, SPRF Transitional Resource Counselor Molly Henderson said Brian and Kelly have worked hard to improve their life trajectories.

“They have gone above and beyond in their efforts to secure permanent housing and better futures,” Henderson said. “I’m extremely proud of them.”

From August 2014 through January 2015, SPRF services provided the family with financial support to help with move-in costs and rental fees associated with their apartment, and eliminate bills to a zero balance.

The payoff: the family has remained together.

“Molly took charge and made sure things went as smoothly as possible with our move-in,” Brian said.

While the family is by no means out of the woods, they are on much firmer ground financially. Perhaps more importantly, they are actively working toward tangible dreams.

For Brian, that means starting what Kelly referred to as a “café cart,” which will feature specialty sandwiches (such as Native American stuffed fry bread). To that end, he recently applied for business loans through the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO).

For Kelly, dreams translate to earning a two-year degree in Human Services from Lane Community College, where she recently started her final year. Eventually, she wants to become a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

And for Jazzmyne, who recently obtained her GED, it means starting her life after high school.

Dreams and second chances that didn’t seem possible even a few years ago are now plausible.

“We’ve been really lucky. Molly and Sydney (a DHS case manager) have worked really hard and helped us get to where we are at,” Brian said. “Having case workers who work with you and take into consideration that everyone deserves a second chance is a big help. They have been a wealth of information.”

Brian has no illusions about the challenges that face his family. But he also realizes how far they have come.

“ShelterCare has lit a lot of fires under me. Where we are sitting right now, at this table in this house, is all because of ShelterCare.”

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