Ellen was a track star in high school destined for greatness, with the potential to compete in college. If you were to meet her, you would be immediately drawn in by her presence, warmth, and infectious laughter.
Toward the end of her high school years, Ellen got Bells Palsy, which caused permanent damage to her heart, ended her track career, and permanently paralyzed part of her face.
Ellen finished high school but dropped out of college, suffering from depression and feeling her future was uncertain. Through her 20s, she began using cocaine and abused alcohol.
She engaged in multiple relationships, many of which were wrought with domestic violence similar to the abuse she had observed between her mother and father when she was a child.
Ellen had some work history, but had trouble holding down a job for very long. She ended up having two boys, who were subsequently taken away from her because of her substance abuse. Her boys spent most of their childhood in foster care.
When she was in her mid-30s, Ellen hit rock bottom. She was homeless, did not have custody of her children, and had no support. She enrolled in a residential substance abuse facility where she got clean, kept her job, and started the process of getting her boys back.
The thing that stood in the way of being reunited as a family was housing. Ellen came into the Charlotte Family Housing program and partnered with staff to get housed, start budgeting and building assets, and continue working on her recovery.
Ellen is now reunited with her boys, now in their teenage years. They are in their own home and working toward long-term sustainability.