Opening Up ~A small painful glimpse inside

September 8, 2016

I died inside in early November of 2012. The lowest point in my life! A time where I could not properly house my children. I thought to myself “you are such a loser and God has smitten you for being less than everyone else”. Thoughts such as these clouded my mind. I was overwhelmed and in despair. 

I had generally worked to live from paycheck to paycheck and even under those circumstances, I never imagined homelessness as being an option. I worked hard, I attended mass on Sunday, I mirrored the good in the world so my children would do the same. I have had hard times and managed to survive by the skin of my teeth at each crossroad. I had always had faith that everything would work out to God’s plan, even if I did not know what that plan was.

I was baffled that I never contemplated the idea or learned about homelessness. On this day I was stupid. Filled with questions and what if scenarios. The only thing plaguing me at the time was a vision of the Katrina shelters – where children were abused and people hurt and or killed. My preconceived ideas stemmed from whatever I had seen on TV.

Now I was that statistic!

What I never imagined was the lack of assistance and the long waiting lists. Here we were about to be thrown out onto the street and there was nowhere for us to go. I had run out of Friends, Family, and money. The list of these was short, to begin with, but when in dire need it shrinks exponentially. And to top off all of this I had no idea what would become of our family pet. Sparkle is not just the most adorable chi-wiener pup in the world she is a family member!

Even through all my disparaging thoughts, God had for us a plan. A road to discovery and love that we had never experienced prior. After a long tear filled search for shelter we happened upon a little shelter called Family Promise. This is where angels come from. A place that allowed me the hope that my children would be safe and have a roof over their head. The social worker called me back just in the nick of time, to save us from sleeping on the street that evening as our car had just been repossessed.

She scheduled a ride to and alerted us that our pup Sparkle would be joining us at the shelter. Upon arrival, I met my angel the social worker there at

Family Promise and she screened us and administered a drug exam (which I had no fear of whatsoever). And then came back and said we were all good to go. We had to put all our clothing (only 1 bag each) into the dryer to kill bed bugs. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Once everything was heated to the appropriate temp we were able to retrieve it and neatly put it away.

I think I spent the better part of the first month in a depression so deep (there is a story of a great wool sweater but it will take a whole chapter in itself to explain), that I vaguely remember the getting accustomed to everything phase. I do remember however the goals and requirements and the lovely churches that took us in each night and showed us compassion, love, and respect.

Well, the nitty-gritty happened in the emergency shelter. I found a next step housing program. We moved to that and I found a secondary job (never leaving my job that I had; that coincidentally cut hours so low that I could not pay rent 2 months in a row in a timely manner resulting in our landlord evicting us). I enrolled in my final classes needed for my bachelor’s degree. I worked tirelessly for just shy of 2 years so I could afford to file bankruptcy. Then we moved to section 8 housing after being on the waiting list for what seemed like forever. Now in a nice neighborhood and good school, my girls were prospering and happy. An amazing 360 degrees from just two years ago. I could not imagine how well were living, with money in our savings account in the bank, the ability to pay bills on time and buy stuff that we wanted as opposed to just needed. 

Wow! Transformation for sure. But how could it get better!? I wasn’t even thinking about that question at the time, this was so much better than we ever had. Well, then I guess it wasn’t up to me because soon I was purchasing a vehicle and then the job of a lifetime became available and offered to me. And the coup-de-gras to all this heartache, pain, and despair was on May 29th 2015, I closed on my home through another program called Habitat for Humanity. The home my children call their castle and it is! Sparkle has a yard, her human family and lest I forget she gets many snacks. We even adopted a brother for her, so they can cause mischief all over the house and yard.

I couldn’t see when despair filled my head it covered my eyes to any of the possibilities but my HOPE was regenerated in my experiences of homelessness and our lives better than we could have ever dreamed of. There are miracles abound even when you don’t think they are possible. Now my daughters and I volunteer at other shelters and programs to give back.
317922_4798624675879_1837347193_n    From Homeless to Homeowner – because of the love from strangers, many never knowing our names or seeing our faces. A heartfelt Thank you to all those that give of themselves to help others.


  1. Reply


    Wow again!! You are definitely the strongest person I know! Or as I’m reading, getting to know. I am truly blessed to have that chance! Thank you!

    1. Reply

      Syri Gerstner

      Darcy I am truly growing into my strengths, I never knew that I actually had any – at least that was the image I saw in the mirror Weak! But my eyes did not the know the beauty of me. Long learning process glad you are here to enjoy the ride with us.

  2. Reply


    It is no wonder I ❤️You so much ! Your heart has always been beautiful . You are perfectly made , there is a reason for everything you are ! The great thing when we can’t see God’s plans , we don’t try to control the outcome . Blessings to all of you !

    1. Reply

      Syri Gerstner

      Andrea what can I say to such compliments? Thank you seems so small. So. THANK YOU & I love you. ~Coffee cup held high in your honor, Saluti!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *