Shai has experienced homelessness in four different states, but now she calls TGP’s 24/7 shelter home. According to Shai, “I tell everybody, especially the new people that come here, that The Gathering Place is the best place in the state.”
It’s been a difficult road getting here. Shai was adopted at birth but sadly, her adoptive parents died when she was only seven years old. After that, she was moved from place to place, including through the group home and foster care systems. “All of these years later, at 55 years old, 56 years old, I realized that I had a lot of attachment issues or detachment issues,” Shai shares. “I had a lot of abandonment issues that I wanted to deal with.”
The idea of reconnecting with her birth family led her to Colorado. She never really knew her biological parents, but she still wanted an opportunity to try to bond with them. “I hadn't been back to Colorado since 2000 for my grandmother's funeral. But, my daughter was here. She was in touch with my biological parents and she told me you need to go see your mom before you don't get to see her at all. When I got to Colorado, something in my spirit said, stay, stay, stay.”
Though Shai wanted to stay in Colorado, she didn’t have a place to sleep. “It seems that I deal with a sort of chronic homelessness, which is something I don’t want.” She connected with another provider in Denver, which found space for her in a temporary shelter program. She was then referred to TGP’s 24/7 shelter, where she is thriving and able to utilize multiple wraparound services.
Over the years, Shai has learned that even as the caretaker of her family, she needs to show the same love and care for herself.
“Before moving to Colorado, after a long time of not being homeless, I ended up being a caretaker of my children's children for my other daughter. She thought that I was supposed to be her live-in nanny and do everything for her family. I watched my daughter's baby pretty much from the time she was two or three until she was seven or eight and then when my daughter felt that her daughter was old enough, she didn’t need me anymore and I was homeless again. I’ve learned now that when your children are grown, let them be grown.”
At TGP, Shai has found support and kindness from staff as she navigates different services and resources. “I worked with Guy, Fatimah, and Carol, who signed me up for an internship program. We’ve been working together on my resume and on putting in job applications, things like that. They’ve also helped me sign up for subsidized housing.”
Beyond housing and employment, TGP has also given Shai the opportunity to get in touch with her emotions and begin healing from the trauma she has experienced throughout her life. Steady housing has helped that effort. “I think that the TGP shelter is a great place.” she shares. “Being right here by the lake is so therapeutic. The water is so healing and there's a grocery store just a few blocks away. It’s definitely the best place that I've ever lived.”