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Stacey turns her life around with help from CHUM

With help from CHUM, Stacey has a job that pays the bills and gives her time to spend time with her son, Donny. Submitted

With help from CHUM, Stacey has a job that pays the bills and gives her time to spend time with her son, Donny. Submitted

Stacey went from having nowhere to turn to turning her life around. And from needing a hand to giving back so much more.

She had placed her first child in open adoption at age 18. Three years later, she was on the verge of doing so again. Pregnant, homesick and couch surfing, she returned to her hometown of Duluth and sought work while living in her car, but it was hard. A lack of a support system and the need to flee an abusive relationship made it even harder. Thankfully, she found help — without judgment, but with guidance — at CHUM.

“They’re very welcoming, very patient, very calm. They’ll tell you how it is, even if you don’t want to hear it — and they’ll do it with genuine compassion,” Stacey says. “CHUM was my first step to happiness, safety and security. Working with CHUM gave me the peace of mind, confidence and hope to succeed and strive.”

She found work with Americorps, helping children in the Early Childhood Development class where she’d taken her son, Donny. It led to other opportunities. She found a full-time day job that pays the bills and allows her to be with Donny at night. She’s in a healthy relationship. And for the past five years, she’s volunteered for organizations that once helped her, including CHUM’s community organizing steering committee.

“I love giving back, but I can’t ever thank them enough for helping me keep my child,” Stacey says. “I was two weeks from seeking an adoption placement. They’ve made such an impact on my life. To be able to give back is such an honor.”

Stacey’s story shows us that the face of homelessness is changing: Increasingly, families and children are seeking our help. During 2012, CHUM’s Emergency Family shelter served 75 families, including 185 children, a nearly 50% increase since 2010. The current shelter cannot provide for the number of families currently seeking shelter and does not allow on-site support and services.

For this reason, CHUM recently launched a $1.5 million capital campaign for the construction and endowment of a new six-unit emergency family shelter to replace its aging four-unit shelter.

The new 6-unit family shelter is being built in conjunction with the Hillside Apartments, an $11.2 million project that’s being developed by One Roof Community Housing. The Hillside Apartments will also include 44 units of permanent supportive housing for families who have experienced long-term homelessness.

CHUM will operate the emergency family shelter and provide supportive services to the families living in the apartments. By integrating the family shelter within the Hillside Apartments, CHUM gains substantial savings in construction costs compared to a stand-alone structure. CHUM will also be able to provide on-site supportive services and 24-hour security to families in both permanent housing and emergency shelter.

CHUM’s Family Shelter Capital Campaign will raise $750,000 for construction and equipping the shelter, and $750,000 for the endowment of shelter operations. CHUM has raised $330,000 so far and invites your full participation.

If you are interested in learning more about the campaign, contact CHUM Executive Director Lee Stuart at lstuart@chumduluth.org or (218) 720-6521, CHUM Development Director Mary Schmitz at mmschmitz@chumduluth.org or (218) 720-6521, or Dan Fuchs at danfuchs4@gmail.com or (218) 461-9359.

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