Cheryl is kind-hearted, warm, and generous. She enjoys listening to music, rooting for the Broncos, and has an incredible ability to fix broken objects with whatever she has on hand. Cheryl began working at 12-years-old to escape the abusive household she grew up in, and by 14-years-old she was on her own. “I learned how to make an income from a young age – working was my life – and that’s how I lived until I got sick.”
Cheryl moved to Eugene from Colorado six years ago, after suffering from severe medical issues that took a toll on her mental health. She came extremely close to dying, and all of her pre-existing mental health symptoms were exacerbated due to her physical condition. Cheryl moved to Eugene with plans of living with a friend, but she ended up living in her car for four years instead.
Cheryl learned about ShelterCare through a peer counselor at Lane County Behavioral Health, who also helped her apply for Section 8. After receiving a Section 8 waitlist number, Cheryl called ShelterCare every month until a spot opened up in its State-based Rental Assistance Program (SRA). Cheryl was accepted into ShelterCare’s SRA Program, which connected her to affordable housing, and her Peer Support Specialist, Emma. “I don’t know where I would be without Emma,” says Cheryl. “She helped me find a home that I love, navigate tough people and situations, and get where I am today.”
Cheryl says the greatest adjustment in her life has been learning her limitations, and accepting that she isn’t able to work and live like she used to. Her anxiety and depression can keep her isolated for long periods of time, so every month she challenges herself to take a “field trip” to a place she enjoys. “As hard as it is, I try to get myself out and around other people. Some of my favorite places to go are St. Vinnie’s and Goodwill; I can spend hours looking at everything in those stores.” Cheryl says her faith, and memories of her late brother, are what keep her strong, and give her the motivation to move forward every day.
Every so often, Cheryl likes to give back by inviting an unhoused neighbor into her home for a shower and a meal. “I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is to feel like you don’t matter,” she says. “Providing someone with a warm meal, and a safe place to clean up, is the least I can do.”