MISSOULA — There are hundreds of people who work every day to end homelessness in our community and once built, the new YWCA shelter in Missoula will go a long way in that effort.
How important is that? We'll show you -- with a story of one family determined to find their way home.
It's been a summer where dreams have come true for this Missoula family.
Todd and Tara and their youngest daughter Trinity have spent the last month moving into their new home -- and it represents the end of a long journey.
“What this means to me and my family is 400 days of homelessness has been put to an end,” Todd Solinger said.
Not that long ago, Todd Solinger and Tara Houde were homeless, lost custody of their children, struggled with addiction.
But this is what happens with hard work, community support and the Family Promise program who took a struggling family and helped make them whole again.
“To have someone believe in us like that. I mean, we’ve worked for everything we have but still. Someone saw that in us and was willing to give us a shot and we didn’t disappoint them," Tara said.
"Families that are experiencing homelessness are not a population that people see. You would not see, -- you would not know -- they fly under the radar," Missoula Interfaith Collaborative Director of Housing Programs Marilyn Thorn said.
"I am continually surprised at how many people I interact with on a daily basis that don’t know that there are kids sleeping in cars in Missoula," she added.
The Family Promise program can house just a few families at a time while the YWCA’s Gateway Emergency Housing Program can take eight more.
But when the new YWCA shelter is built, the two organizations together will be able to provide 30 families with emergency housing.
“Having this center means that we will have emergency beds for people when they need it and from day one we will take to them about how to get you into permanent housing," Thorn said.
It’s wrong to say all homeless families are there due to bad decisions they’ve made. Many already walk a razor thin line of financial stability, balanced so precariously it doesn’t take much to fall. It takes a lot, however, to get back up.
“We couldn’t get housing without the kids and we couldn’t get the kids without housing so were stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Tara told MTN News.
“Unless you’re in this mix you may not know how much work is going on in ending homelessness. we are doing a good job and we’re doing a very collaborative effort in Missoula," Thorn said
"And I do have hope that we will end it for families and individuals and veterans. I’d like to live in Missoula where there are not kids sleeping in cars at any time," she added.
Today, Tara helps find people homes and works at the Poverello Center where she once lived while Todd helps find people jobs and offers support and guidance to those who struggle.
Their story shows with hard work and hope -- and a community determined to find homes for all families -- you can find your way home.
“You can be at the bottom of the bit put, there’s always more to go. You can get yourself up, too. you can sit around and wallow in a mudpuddle or you can get up and take a shower," Todd said.
The YWCA is in its final push to raise money for the new shelter and you can donate here, Once it’s built, they’re going to need volunteers to help.