La Posada shelter aims to help families stabilizeWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
People arrive on the doorstep of La Posada Family Shelter for a variety of reasons. Those can include a mental health issue, unemployment or simply a stroke of bad luck. Danielle Tedrow of Toledo lost the home she rented when the owner took out a second mortgage and failed to make a payment. The sheriff’s office threatened to evict her so she moved in with her grandmother.
When that plan fell through, she had no other choice. She took her two young daughters into Catholic Charities’ La Posada house on Feb. 15, 2010. She stayed for two life-changing months.
The name La Posada originated from the Spanish holiday “Las Posadas.” The event is a nine-day celebration that represents the difficulties Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, faced in search of a room when traveling to Bethlehem. Since opening more than two decades ago, La Posada has sheltered more than 2,000 families.
Last year, 62 families found shelter within its walls on Eastern Avenue in South Toledo. The majority of “house guests” are young mothers with three or four children, said Program Coordinator Jeanelle Addie. Fathers with children are also welcome. The families are referred by United Way of Greater Toledo.
“We understand that the families are in need,” Addie said. “There’s other issues going on … we do a needs assessment. We figure out what needs they have in the family.”
The shelter offers résumé preparation and GED classes from Lourdes University students, tutoring for children from Toledo Public Schools, financial education, nutrition education, parenting group, Bible study, self-esteem workshops and more.
The goal is not to do it for them but help them help themselves, said Catholic Charities Executive Director Rodney Schuster.
“They are in crisis mode when they come to us [at La Posada],” Schuster said. “The first thing is to provide stability. Let them know they are loved and will be cared for. Kind of let the dust settle. Then a case manager meets with them and finds out in essence how did they end up here, what were the circumstances. And then once we find that out, we help them determine what’s your plan once you’re here, what are some things we can do.
“There a mindset out there sometimes that ‘I don’t need to do anything to help myself.’ Well, yes you do because otherwise you will be going from shelter to shelter to shelter, soup kitchen to soup kitchen. If you’re of sound mind and body, God has greater intentions for you. And we would hope you would too. We have no idea what you’ve gone through in your life; we’re not in your shoes. But you either can dwell on that and let it keep you underneath water for the rest of your life or you can emerge and say, ‘Today’s a brand-new day and I’m going to do something’ and we’re going to help them.”
Many families keep their identity secret out of a desire for privacy and/or a sense of shame. Tedrow said she felt as if she were a failure — that she had let her children down by moving into La Posada house. She felt ashamed. But as bad as she felt coming in, she was transformed by the experience.
Tedrow said she would have been sleeping under a bridge that night. Instead, she arrived at La Posada house with her two daughters, ages 4 and 6. She was separated from her husband and was “on her own.”
At the time, she said she worked from job to job, her self-esteem “not worth a few hours at a Walmart.” She described herself as a “doormat,” someone who didn’t stand up for herself, who didn’t have her own voice.
La Posada house changed all that. She locked herself in her room for the first 37 days, wanting to isolate, not realizing that the staff was there to help. But she eventually came out of “hiding” and participated in workshops and talks with Addie and others.
“You almost feel like you failed as a parent, that you don’t have that stability to give. It is rewarding in the end,” Tedrow said. “I’ll never forget the people I met at La Posada.”
On April 17, 2010, Tedrow and her two daughters moved out of La Posada and today live in a four-bedroom home in Ottawa Hills. Tedrow is now a state tested nursing assistant (STNA) working in hospice.
Four years after her experience, she still communicates with Addie and has been serving on the advisory board for La Posada.
“I feel strongly in what they do and how they support the community,” Tedrow said. “Six months after I left, Jeanelle offered me the position, so it’s been a couple of years now … You can make it when you get out of here.”
For more information, visit catholiccharitiesnwo.org.
Tags: Bible study, Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities Executive Director, GED Classes, Jeanelle Addie, La Posada, La Posada Family Shelter, Lourdes University, Program Coordinator, Rodney Schuster, Spanish holiday, Toledo Public Schools, United Way of Greater Toledo, Walmart