If you had asked me last Thanksgiving what I planned to be doing today, I can guarantee you that I never planned to spend it homeless.
I grew up in a lower middle class family. I graduated from college with a degree in Business. I developed a good career as a manager in corporate America and raised 2 great kids – both in college – and thought life couldn’t get any better.
Then the bottom dropped out.
My company eliminated my department due to the recession. After 11 years, I was sent on my way with 10 weeks’ severance pay. I searched for a new job, but no corporate jobs were to be had. And nobody would hire me for minimum wage jobs because I was over-qualified. I spent my severance, my savings, my 401K, and my unemployment benefits trying to stay afloat.
On July 26th this year, I was evicted from my home. All of my belongings and years of mementos were dumped at the curb. With no options left, I packed up what I could and called D.C.’s shelter hotline to find a place to sleep.
When I arrived at the emergency shelter, I learned that I would be sleeping in a room with 80 other women, sharing 3 showers.
I cried tears that I had been holding back for a year and a half.
I’ve always been a strong, independent person able to handle all difficult situations in my life. I am bright, articulate, and well-rounded with a shining personality. I always thought I would be able to overcome this problem before it got to this point.
Reading my story, you might think I don’t have much to be thankful for this year. But you’d be wrong.
I am thankful for the counselor at the emergency shelter. She took me by the hand, told me “you don’t belong here,” and referred me to N Street Village, which provides services for homeless women. They saved my life.
I’m grateful to the staff, all the friends I’ve made here, the good meals and access to services I’ve enjoyed. And I’m grateful to my kids and family who have stuck by me.
While this has been one of the most devastating times of my life, this Thanksgiving, I have hope.
I’m feeling like I’m finally getting my life back. I feel blessed and positive about a bright future ahead of me. I am enrolled in the education and employment program, and I’m actively job-seeking while giving back by volunteering.
I still have my greatest challenge to overcome, but I’m so thankful for love and support that I’ve received.
Finally, today, I am grateful to be spending Thanksgiving with my kids and extended family. And I know that next Thanksgiving, Noelle will be back – better than ever.
Noelle Beaumon currently lives at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C., and will share her story on Friday’s Tell Me More.