“It’s nice here, it’s comfortable,” says Kiva Bailey. “It’s a relief.”
Kiva and her five children have been living at the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter since last November. It is the first stable home environment they have had in a long time.
When they first arrived, the things they needed help with included clothing, soap and towels. Now Kiva is getting assistance in finding a job. She wants to get one cleaning offices, like she did before Katrina.
“We have employment class Monday through Thursday 9 to 11,” says Kiva. “We look up jobs on the computer and fill out applications. The teacher will point out different job opportunities that might come up. They’ll help you set up an interview, and when you get one, they’ll go over there with you.”
Kiva’s children love the activities at the shelter, including movie nights, game nights, and an Easter celebration with face painting, an egg hunt, and ice cream.
“The kids are always looking forward to the next thing,” says Kiva. “We call my older boy ‘The Investigator’ because he knows what’s happening before I do.”
Kiva’s youngest boy, Cory, had been so nervous and shy that he was scared to go to the bathroom by himself, and Kiva used to have to go to his school and sit with him while he took a test. But since moving into the shelter, he’s beginning to come out of his shell.“Here, he’s a different person,” says Kiva. “He talks. He gets along with everybody around here. They like to joke with him.”
Kiva’s middle daughter, Pamela, is quiet at school, but at the shelter, she likes to sing and dance and put on plays for the residents. She has taken to calling herself Beyoncé.
All five children attend the same school. For next year, Kiva’s oldest daughter has been accepted into both Ben Franklin and Lusher—the first student to do so from her school.
Kiva and her children love babies, and they get to know each new family that arrives. They are also enjoying being back in New Orleans after nearly 10 years in Houston post-Katrina. On weekends, they walk together to the park, Canal Street or the Riverwalk.
In August 2015, Kiva and her family moved into their own home.
Mary was a 53 year old resident of the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter who entered the Education and Employment Department in October 2014. Mary was very active in the classes by completing her employment portfolio, her mock interview, sharing some of her past experiences with the class and doing up to three job searches a day. Mary had initially obtained employment with a child daycare center, but because of medical reasons she was unable to fulfill the required duties.
Due to Mary’s medical issue she was unable to obtain any type regular employment. Thanks to the resourcefulness of our Director, she redirected Mary’s ambitions to another avenue, by having her volunteer until her situation resolved. Although Mary believed that her volunteering opportunities were limited, Shelter staff was successful in redirecting Mary’s volunteering searches to hospitals, museums, the zoo and other possibilities which would be less strenuous and demanding for her. Mary successfully obtained a volunteering position with both New Orleans Children’s Museum and The New Orleans Museum of Art in 2015. Mary moved out of the shelter in 2015 to her own apartment.
Patricia was a 51 year old resident of the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter who began classes in NOWCS Education and Employment Department in October 2014. Even though Patricia was already employed and had a portfolio, she attended the classes for Building a Portfolio regularly.
In class Patricia was very receptive to the differences in the portfolio format that was presented, as compared to the one she already possessed. Patricia participated in the Building a Portfolio classes and received her certificate of completion.
Patricia continued to show interest in the services provided by the NOWCS Employment & Education Department, by applying for some of the positions that were posted on the EED information board. Patricia applied for one of the jobs and was hired, and then went on to secure a second job. Patricia continued to show that she was a woman on the move and found an apartment, with the assistance of the NOWCS Case Manager. Patricia moved out of the shelter in 2015.
Suzanna was a 30 year old resident of the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter who entered the Education and Employment Department program in October 2014. Suzanna was active in class completing her employment portfolio and her mock interview, conducting three job searches each day and actively engaging in class participation.
Suzanna displayed some frustration when she first entered the program because of the various obstacles that prevented her from being as successful as she wished. The frustration from these obstacles was evident in the ways Suzanna communicated.
After several weeks of working with her Case Manager Suzanna began to overcome her frustration and obstacles, finding a renewed confidence in herself. Her communication greatly improved, and she secured a job. However, some of the old obstacles reoccurred which caused her to lose that employment. Pressing past that experience with her new sense of self-confidence, Suzanna soon began working in a new full-time job.
Suzanna really enjoys her new job and its environment.
What they’re saying
“The New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter has helped me and my children in many ways. . . .First and foremost, they have given us a stable living environment, a place we can walk into and feel safe and secure. . . . We have set goals for me and my children and I am working hard to obtain them. I recently got a new job, my children are going back to school soon, and things are straightening themselves out, with much thanks to the support I have had from the shelter.” – Allison and daughters (NOWCS residents 2012)
“The Shelter gives me a second chance to get my life together. The staff understands that homelessness can happen to anyone regardless of what background, level of education, or culture. They made my shame go away and empowered me. I thank God for the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter!” – Ada L. (NOWCS resident 2014)
“The shelter helped me to obtain my GED, find a job, learn how to be a better parent and I even learned how to cook better meals for my family. I came a long way from homelessness to living on my own in my own home and I love them for that” – Monique B. (NOWCS resident 2013)
“As a former resident, living at the shelter made starting life over very easy for me. I had an opportunity to get a new start in life. With four kids and nowhere to go the shelter helped me to make a way for my family.” – Dina S. (NOWCS resident 2015)