Stories of Success: From Client to Colleague

Case Manager Amber Cowles (L) and ShelterCare graduate Desire Mitchell (R)
Desiree Mitchell is a proud ShelterCare employee, working as a housekeeper at Garden Place and filling in as a relief employee at other programs. She and her partner have two kids and live in a nice Springfield duplex. Her life is good and her life is stable.

Yet less than two years ago, Desiree’s life was very different. In late 2013, she and her family were evicted from their apartment and forced to live in their car. Life became frightening, uncertain. Looking back is very emotional for Desiree, especially when she thinks about how hard the experience was for her kids.

Yet, just when things seemed hopeless, Desiree heard about ShelterCare’s Homelessness Prevention Program. She made a call and soon Case Manager Amber (Larsen) Cowles was working to change the family’s fortunes.

“She was so enthusiastic,” Desiree recalls.

Amber backed up her enthusiasm with action, first connecting Desiree with ShelterCare Resource Counselor Yuki Kumashiro, who connected the family to St. Vincent de Paul’s night shelter program. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than living in a car. Yuki also secured Desiree a spot on the waiting list for ShelterCare’s Family Housing Program, where the family moved after six weeks in the shelter. Desiree remembers that as a huge step forward.

“We went from having no privacy to living in a place with clean rooms, heat, real beds and a stove to cook on,” Desiree said.

Amber wasn’t finished — and she was determined to make sure Desiree and her family were working as hard as she was to make their dreams come true.

“Amber is a good motivator,” Desiree admits. “Sometimes she kicked our butts to make sure we were getting things done!”

The most amazing day was when Amber drove the family to look at a duplex in Springfield. As they arrived, Amber declared, “This is where you’re going to live.”

Soon after, that declaration became a reality.

With six months of financial support, Desiree and her partner were able to stabilize their lives in their new home. In March 2015, Desiree was hired at Garden Place and fulfilled a new dream.

“I wanted to serve my community and help people the way we were helped. What better way to do this than to work at ShelterCare?”

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